It is difficult to imagine how a man could be doing exactly what he wants to do with his life, be wealthy beyond what most people can imagine, and travel anywhere in the world and be welcomed and embraced like a beloved brother- yet feel deeply dissatisfied, bitter, and in bondage. That was the circumstance of Prince in the early 90’s.
Despite all of the vestiges of freedom and trappings of wealth, Prince was in a contract with Warner Brothers that made him feel restricted as to how he could create and share his artistry with the world. He was so deeply unhappy in his contract that he took the extreme measure of changing his name from “Prince” to “the Artist Formerly Known as Prince.” He scrawled the word “slave” on his cheek to dramatize his point. People called him crazy and made jokes about him- even people that loved him. Many fans abandoned him who had adored him during the Purple Rain craze of a decade earlier.
But he stuck to his guns and a funny thing happened: When he shed the identity and the expectations that made him feel restricted, he exploded into the next phase of his life. He sold a lot fewer records but made a ton more money doing it on his own terms and doing it his own way. He had to endure the ridicule and misunderstanding of many others but in the end he won. The reason is simple.
ONLY YOU KNOW WHAT FREEDOM IS FOR YOU. ONCE YOU RECOGNIZE IT AND COMMIT TO IT, NOTHING ELSE MATTERS.
So Prince wrote his own personal Emancipation Proclamation and it made the last twenty years of his life the most prosperous and by his own account the happiest of his journey. The world came around and he wound up with even greater fame and acclaim than he had before because he defined himself and defied conventions. We should all do likewise: figure out our own freedom and commit to it- come what may.