We tend to think of free spirits as wild and adventurous individuals whose fascination with the world is only matched by their often-frustrating flakiness. However, true free spirits are a mass of contradictions—extroverts who love their alone time, hopeless romantics who bounce from partner to partner, and people who, by all accounts, generally defy definition.
“Free spirits are often people who don’t like to live by rules. They march to their own drum wherever it takes them,” says psychotherapist Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, M.Ed. “They don’t like to be tied down to commitments or to others’ expectations for them. They prefer not to plan, but trust following their instincts. Some can be irresponsible, but that’s not always the case. They are often creative and it’s good for people who are more regimented and inhibited to be around them, giving them a chance to loosen up.”
If that sounds like you, read on to discover further signs you’re a free spirit at heart. And to learn even more about your inner workings, check out the 17 Things Your Job Can Reveal About Your Personality.
You lose track of time easily.
You might have a watch on your wrist, but you often find that minutes—even hours—pass by at an alarming rate. While losing track of time with such frequency might be distressing to others, to you, it just means that you’re fully engaging with the task at hand and allowing yourself to get lost in the moment.
You’re often caught daydreaming.
All that time spent staring out the window isn’t wasted for you—you’re using it to plan your next adventure, considering the philosophical implications of a great book you just read, or are imagining how to achieve some of your long-term goals. Better yet, research actually suggests that daydreaming is more productive than many people make it out to be—according to a study conducted at the Georgia Institute of Technology, daydreaming is significantly correlated with having high intelligence.
You may not find yourself feeling confined when you step into an elevator, but your claustrophobia is still all too real—albeit metaphorical. When you stay in one place for too long, or spend too much time in the company of the same people, you get the itch to expand your horizons and discover new people and places.
Long-term commitments aren’t your style.
Sure, you’ve had some long-term relationships, lengthy stints in jobs, and apartments you’ve stayed in for years at a time, but it’s just happenstance that things worked out that way. Most of the time, signing even a year-long cell phone contract still gives you the chills.
Taking the long way home is well worth the time to you.
Monotony and routine are not in your vocabulary. Even if it means you have to leave work a few minutes early or end up getting home after dark, enjoying a change of scenery is invigorating to you, and well worth the extra time spent.
Work-life balance is non-negotiable.
You’ve never been the kind of person who voluntarily spends 12-hour days at the office—even if you value and enjoy your job, you always remind yourself that you’re working to live, not the other way around. The good news? Taking the reins when it comes to work-life balance is the smart move in the long run: research published in the Journal of Theoretical Social Psychology reveals that individuals who work high-stress jobs with little work-life balance die sooner than their more even-keeled counterparts.
You value experiences over objects.
You know that a shiny new car in your driveway will make you happy for a little while, but the memories of an amazing trip, a great meal with friends, or just a movie night with your favorite people will trump some fancy possession every time. And it seems you’re onto something—researchers at Cornell University and the University of California found that people enjoy significantly greater happiness when they spend their money on experiences, rather than material goods.
Your waiter is getting tired of hearing, “I need more time.”
While making a single, concrete decision may make others feel at ease, to you, it means you’re missing out. Even if you’re just ordering off a menu in your favorite restaurant, you know that picking a single dish means you’re not getting to dry dozens of other ones—and you find yourself a little bummed about that every time. And to unlock more secrets of the mind-and-body connection, see These Personality Traits That Will Extend Your Life.
You love partying, but not as much as your “me time.”
Though many assume that free spirits are all about living it up with others, true free spirits know that no one’s company is as good as their own. While you may be primarily extroverted in nature, you also sometimes need some solo time to get lost in your thoughts and plan your next adventure. For ideas on where to jet off to next, check out the 25 Adventures You Should Have Before You Die.
Learning is the great passion in your life.
Some people spend a lifetime studying a single language, book, or philosophy. And while you admire their dedication, you want to learn everything you can about the world. Reading a book or article about a topic is great, but you love the fact that there’s so much more out there to learn. Jumping from one field of study to the only serves to energize you, as you realize that there’s a vast iceberg of information below the surface you still get to explore.
You’re not a loner, but not a people-person either.
Others love to be around you, but you dread the question, “Are you a people-person?” In reality, you don’t really label yourself, and see your personality as something that can’t be easily categorized. While you relish the opportunity to meet new people and form new relationships, you also value your alone time.
You don’t let other people’s opinions of you affect your self-worth.
Sure, some people don’t really understand your raison d’être. However, you aren’t particularly worried about making them come around to your side of the fence. Even if it seems unconventional to others, you’re content with the way you live your life, and you don’t let anyone else’s opinion get you down.
The end of the night is always a bummer for you.
They say all good things come to an end, but you’d give anything for that not to be universally true. You’ve been known to extend a party into the wee hours of the morning or spend all night having deep discussions with your friends, even when you know it means you’ll be skimping on sleep.
You’re fiercely independent.
It’s not so much that you’re always bucking social norms, but you’re proud of your fierce independence. You know that marching to the beat of your own drummer won’t always win you friends, but you’re content flying solo if that means you can stay true to your convictions.
You don’t see roadblocks, you see opportunities.
You’ve always been a good problem solver, and troubles don’t easily intimidate you. You know that just because it feels like you’ve come to an impasse doesn’t mean there’s no way of finding your way out—in fact, when problems rear their heads, you relish the opportunity to tackle them head-on.
You find ways to laugh at just about anything life throws at you.
Just because you’re a free spirit doesn’t mean there’s nothing in the world that gets you down. That said, you’re an expert at making lemonade from lemons. Those moments when the world seems to be conspiring against you are nothing more than opportunities to change course for brighter horizons.
You think worrying is a waste of time.
Some people might see you as careless, but what they just don’t understand is that worrying just doesn’t make much sense to you. Your problem-solving nature means that you’re eager to fix what’s wrong and move on instead of fretting over what you could have done differently.
Every new person is a potential friend to you.
No matter where you go, you’re always picking up new friends. And even though you may find yourself moving from place to place with some frequency, you’re dedicated to keeping in touch with the people who mean the most to you, no matter where you are. In fact, you still have friends from kindergarten you talk to every day.
You have too many hobbies to count.
Your hobbies are what keep you sane. In your quest to learn everything you can about the world, you’ve found yourself deep-sea diving, learning how to play the didgeridoo, and studying the art of French cuisine. But you also know that spending too much time on a single pursuit will eventually drive you nuts, so you find yourself in master-of-none territory more often than not.
You’re a born leader.
Adhering to other peoples’ advice and ideas is like trying to fit a square through a circular hole. You’re a born leader, and you love being able to teach other people, although you think that their happiness is just as important as their mastery of any subject. And for more ways to maximize your knowledge about yourself, check out the 23 Signs You’re Too Negative.
You fall in love easily.
Friendships aren’t the only type of relationship you come by easily. Finding yourself wrapped up in a whirlwind romance happens more often than you might like to admit. And you know that having a primary partner doesn’t always guarantee happiness. In fact, science backs your relationship style—researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, found that polyamorous relationships tend to foster more personal growth and communication than monogamous ones.
You have great relationships with your exes.
While you don’t always stay in relationships for long, you know that just because you’re not dating someone doesn’t mean you can’t be friends. In fact, many of your exes still confide in you years after your romantic relationship ended.
You’re not competitive.
Being a star in your field has never been a goal of yours. Instead, you enjoy the experience of your work, and strive to do your best, but feel happy for the people who outpace you.
You don’t dwell on the past.
You are a product of everything you’ve seen, learned, and felt before. You are who you are because of where you’ve been, and you rarely look back on past experiences—no matter how dark or traumatic they may have seemed at the time—with negativity.
You live intentionally.
Just because you’re a free spirit doesn’t mean you’re incapable of living an intentional life. In fact, living intentionally is a major priority for you, even if your fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants lifestyle doesn’t always make it seem that way to others. And when things don’t go as planned, you take the “Bob Ross mentality” and celebrate the “happy accidents.”
Not in, like, the childhood meaning of the term. Being a free spirit doesn’t always mean riding the wind, wherever it may take you. You have a clear vision in mind, but see many pathways to get there. While it may not always be obvious to others, you have concrete goals, even if your methods for reaching them may seem slightly unconventional.
Your relationships are the most important thing to you.
You live for inspiration, and nothing inspires you more than giving and receiving love. You find yourself invigorated by a talk on the phone with your parents, recharged by a game night with friends, and can even draw inspiration from a tipsy conversation in a bar with a stranger. To you, the connections you make in life, no matter with whom, are always your top priority.
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