What Freedom Means by Steven Hollingshead

Freedom is having the ability to be your own person and do what makes you feel right.  It is being able to convey your ideals and messages pervasively in the world without the concern of being judged or ridiculed for independent and –non-uniform.  When I think of freedom, two things come to mind.  I think of India Arie and American Eagle Outfitters. 

I think of India Arie because of her song “I am not my hair”.  If you listen to the lyrics, she says, “I am not my hair; I am not this skin; I am the soul that lives within”.  Being from an underprivileged area in Memphis, TN the majority of my life, I am expected to have a certain persona coming from the area.  People, before they meet me sometimes, often have predetermined thoughts of me which makes establishing a great first impression harder than expected.  The lyrics kind of reverberate for me by establishing the idea that freedom is accepting who you are and where you come from but understanding that you aren’t developed specifically by where you come from, the color of your skin, or how you were raised.  Rather, freedom is determined by how you allowed your soul to mature and evolve throughout your life, and be displayed to the world as an image that defines your own being built by your past but established by your own individualism. 

American Eagle Outfitters is a simpler reason.  Because I have worked with this company for about 4 years, I have the motto “Live Your Life” glued to the exterior of mind.  I choose to live my life how I wish.  I want to be President of the U.S. one day and give back to the areas in my old neighborhood that did help me establish my identity.  I want to live my life for the best so I can then better the rest of the world as well.  Living my life has given me opportunities, style, intelligence and leadership ability I would not have dreamed of in my first year of high school.  I hope to one day come back and tell my story so that others understand that it is okay to be who you are and stand for what you believe.  No one can control how you LIVE YOUR LIFE but you.

Working with Shelby Farms Park Conservancy, I have met a wide range of new people that all have the common interest of giving something to the people of Memphis and Shelby County something that is of their own control. Shelby Farms Park has no governmental influence and free of potential developmental threats.  It is the people’s Park.  Everyone here is an individual.  They each have their own quirks and their own positives.  It is a team that balances one another out.  They give the interns the same opportunity.  You are independent and free to do your work the best way you can within reason.  Each staff member here treats the intern just like an employee.  We can speak in important meetings, give criticisms and feedback, and be accepted as equals at table of wiser individuals.  I am more of free spirited worker.  I go the direction I feel is the best and if I have to dial it in, I will.  Working with me, you get great ideas, a hard worker, someone who can take a lot of criticism and try any task laid out, and is not afraid to get his hands dirty.  My definition of freedom allows me to be me, live my life, work within the confines of Shelby Farms Park Conservancy, display excellent progress, and produce genuine results for the organization.


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