When you hear the term “free spirit”, what comes to mind? What does it really mean to be a free spirited person?
The term “free spirit” is something of an abstract one. While many sociologists and researchers have attempted to define this term over the years, most people have their own individual definitions of the term.
If you want to get technical, the Webster Dictionary defines a “free spirit” as:
“Someone who thinks and acts in an uninhibited way, without worrying about normal social rules.”
Other dictionaries such as the Collins Dictionary, however, state that free spirited people are “independent”.
So, what does it really mean to be free spirited? Is it a term of endearment intended to champion people who live by their own rules and march to the beat of their own drum, or a warning of someone’s wild and rebellious ways?
What Exactly Does it Mean to be Free Spirited?
Definitions of what it means to be free spirited vary from one source to the next. Shannon Kaiser, the author of The Self-Love Experiment, says free spirits don’t follow traditional paths, not because they want to be renegades or rebels. Instead, Shannon believes free spirits “Live from their heart and are comfortable living outside their comfort zone.”
Author of Self-Care for Empaths, Tanya Carroll, describes free spirits as people who hate being boxed in or tied down. If you’re a free spirit, according to Carroll, you’re committed to living life your own way. “In truth, they just hate to be bored and crave lots of different experiences.”
While the details of each definition may be slightly different, there are some overriding themes. It seems most people agree free spirited people are individuals unrestricted by society’s rules. Rather than worrying constantly about what other people think, or say, these people are committed to living life their own way.
Some people find this way of life magnetising, but others don’t always like what they can’t understand.
Is Being Free Spirited a Good Thing?
The words “free” or “freedom” typically have positive connotations. This means most people will naturally see being “free spirited” as a positive quality. Many people consider free spirits to be wonderfully independent, carefree, and capable of living life to the fullest.
However, there are positives and negatives to any personality type.
On one hand, a free spirit can live a fun and confident life, marching to their own drum. As psychotherapist Karen R Koenig says, free spirits are often creative, romantic, and passionate.
In some cases, however, being a free spirit might be a negative thing. Some people who don’t relate to the uninhibited lifestyle can often perceive free spirits as being flaky, noncommittal, or unreasonable.
Some of the common issues you may have as a free spirit include:
- Misunderstandings: One of the most common terms to appear in any definition of a “free spirit” is that they’re “unconventional”. These people generally don’t live by society’s norms, which can be worrisome to certain people. Being unique is great, but it won’t always appeal to everyone you’re trying to build a relationship with. You may also feel as though you’re always struggling to fit in, and feel misunderstood.
- Commitment issues: Long-term planning is often a foreign concept to a free spirit, who prefers to live life “in the moment”. Free spirits follow their hearts, which can mean making decisions and changes rapidly. This can make commitment difficult. Not all free spirited people have any sort of commitment issues, though.
- Flaky behaviour: Because free spirits often change their mind regularly, they can end up suddenly backing out of a plan or doing something differently. This spontaneous behaviour can lead to poor decision-making, and irritation among friends and loved ones.
- No filter: Since free spirited people often march to the beat of their own drum and don’t follow social norms, they tend to speak with no filter. They’re very brazen and outspoken, and this courageous style of honest communication can catch people off guard.
Free spirits are also obsessed with freedom, which can mean they struggle to feel comfortable in a situation where they’re not in control. Being stuck in a 9-to-5 job, for instance, may drain your energy if you’re a free spirit. This is because you march to the beat of your own drum, and you don’t want to be working on someone else’s strict schedule.
Benefits to Being a Free Spirit
While being a free spirit has its lifestyle complications, there are many positive aspects to this way of life. Having the confidence to follow your natural instincts in life can mean you get more out of life. When you follow your heart and focus on achieving your own sense of well-being, you can enjoy a sense of true freedom and capture more special moments in life.
Free spirits don’t allow societal pressures to influence them, so they’re less likely to lose weight just because of something they see on social media, find a partner because everyone else they know did, or change their habits to fit in with the crowd. This means you’re less inclined to fall into unhealthy habits. As a free spirit you can:
- Learn to love yourself: Free spirits are confident in their own skin, and happy doing what they believe to be right. This takes a lot of the pressure of living in a society with various abstract rules about what you should wear and how you should look after your shoulders.
- Be more carefree: When you’re not living by society’s rules, you can march to the beat of your own drum, pursuing the interests and activities that make you feel happy and healthy. As a free spirited person, you’ll trust your own intuition to get you to wherever you need to go.
- Live an open-minded life: Free spirits are usually naturally open people. They’re willing to learn and try new things, and they’re happy to absorb other perspectives. As more open people, free-spirited individuals often come across as highly authentic and friendly, which can help with forming all kinds of crucial relationships.
- Be more independent: Because free spirits don’t rely on social norms and abstract rules to guide them, they can focus more on making their own decisions about life. This fosters a state of independence which ensures free spirits can live life happily on their own.
- Take life as it comes: Free spirits are courageous enough to tackle new challenges and try new things when the opportunity arises. They’re willing to take life as it comes, which means they don’t allow the fear of “what if” to hold them back.
Signs You May Be a Free Spirit
Being a free spirit essentially just means you belong to a certain personality type – one more likely to be driven by the quest for freedom and experience, than restricted by rules. Being a free spirit, similar to being a “Type A” or “Type B” personality, isn’t necessarily a bad thing or a good thing.
It’s up to you to determine whether you want to cultivate your free spirited ways, by leaning into certain behaviours, or whether you may need to restrict these activities from time to time, perhaps to avoid issues with commitments, or relationship problems. Here are some signs you may be a free spirited person:
- You often lose track of time: You often get caught up in the moment of whatever you’re doing, which means you lose track of time fast. This could mean you’re often late when meeting friends or finishing projects, but it also means you’re less likely to watch the minutes go by when you’re at work.
- Being “hemmed in” is a problem: Free spirited people crave freedom. In moments where you feel hemmed in or restricted, you may have a sense of claustrophobia. You may begin to feel uncomfortable if you spend too long in a single place, or you know you’re not allowed to leave somewhere until a certain time (such as your workplace).
- Commitments aren’t your style: While you can still have long-term relationships as a free spirit, you’re more inclined to see how things go one day at a time. Though you often find yourself daydreaming, you may not make any long term plans which guarantee you to be in the same place, or with the same person for too long.
- You’re fiercely independent: As a free spirit, you make your own rules, and follow your own guidelines. You don’t let other people’s perceptions guide you, although you’re likely to be open to other people’s thoughts and opinions.
- Experiences are more important to you than materials: Free spirited people are driven by the quest for joy, pleasure, and other great things in life. This means it’s unlikely you’ll find yourself getting overly attached to any physical possessions. Experiences will be more meaningful to you than anything you can display on a shelf.
- You’re a problem-solver: Where other people see roadblocks in life, free spirits see an opportunity to think outside of the box and do something different. Free spirited people are used to going in a different direction to the rest of the crowd, so they’re comfortable trying things other people wouldn’t think of.
- Worrying is a waste of time: While anxiety and stress may still influence a free spirited person, you’re comfortable tackling just about anything life throws at you. Because you know you’re an adaptable person, you don’t waste your time worrying about what might happen. You simply deal with problems as they arise.
- Trying new things is a must: Free spirited people are incredibly open-minded individuals. They’re willing to try all kinds of new things, from hobbies, to trips around the world. You may have a million different hobbies, and find yourself regularly picking up new obsessions, which you focus on for a while, before finding something else.
- You’re a born leader: Free spirited people often have a hard time following the instruction and guidance of others, but they’re excellent at taking on a leadership position. You love people who are able to guide other people, and because you’re willing to listen to other perspectives, most people will be happy to follow you.
- You don’t dwell on the past: Free spirited people don’t have time to worry about what could have been. Rather than thinking too frequently about the past, you’re more likely to focus on the future and what you can do in the moment.
Every free spirit captures the beauty of the term in its own way, so the above list may not sound much like you, but you could definitely still be a free spirit.
Are You a Free Spirited Person?
Being free spirited isn’t necessarily a good thing or a bad thing. Although definitions of what it means to be free spirited vary, most people agree these individuals are extremely independent, creative, and open individuals, committed to getting the most out of their lives.
If you’re a free spirited person, you’re sure to find a lot of people flocking around you throughout your life, appreciating your unique take on the world. If your free-spirited nature makes you feel a little too irresponsible sometimes, consider practising a way of life that incorporates a happy medium. Even if you put down roots and become a little more responsible, you can still live life in a way that captures the essence of being free spirited. This is why commitment shouldn’t scare you. You don’t have to lose the essence of who you are.