“Why are you trying so hard to fit in when you were born to stand out?”
― Ian Wallace
We are all guilty of living (sometimes) just a little bit inside the box. Of being conformists. Of following the latest trends, the latest social norms, the current list of do’s and don’ts. But we were never meant specifically for this. We were meant for being free. For living outside the box. For being different.
I remember being 10 or 11 years old and wishing I was shorter. There were a lot of short people in my class at the time and short seemed to be where it was at. I was a gangly, awkward young thing with legs too long for her frame. And all I wanted to do was shrink. Reduce. Make myself smaller. Because I wanted to be whatever descriptor the box was around me at the time.
What I remember about those days was trying to make myself appear uniform to whomever was around me. And try as I might, it was nearly impossible to do. I couldn’t get shorter, no matter how hard I tried. And eventually, I had to come to terms with the fact that I wasn’t a carbon copy. I was unique. I was a too tall pre-teen and that was okay. Because I was more than merely a length or width or height. I was a person.
I was essential, I was whole. Just as I was.
There are a lot of kids around me in my line of work that want to be the same as everyone else. It’s hard to stand out and be the different one- particularly if your kind of different isn’t what matches the going fad. The going trend. Actually, this isn’t just a kid problem. It’s a people problem. It is not easy to stand out in a crowd when the thing that defines you boxes you in. The kind of box I am referring to is such that makes you feel constricted, not free. That makes you feel as though who you, what you have- the lot you’ve been given in life: all of it is not enough.
Boxes can do that to you.
They can put walls up between people. They can shut people out. They can make barriers. They can create loneliness.
I realize there are free-spirits out there that have that special something that attracts attention. They don’t live in a box because (perhaps) what they have been given is innately and already desirable. Whom I refer to are those that possess certain rare qualities: those who have the ‘it’ factor or whatever else might be deemed attractive and special and desirable at the time and moment of need. For these, the box does not define them. They live life unbound. Unshackled. Not like the others who are at the mercy of the box.
But if we were all truthful, whether one is inside the box or outside the box: there is still a feeling of separation. Because boxes divide people- they don’t unite us.
It’s time we stepped up. The gracious, accepting nature that defines those who know better- the empathy and caring that so many are in possession of can be used to dismantle the box. We don’t need a box to tell us what we’re worth. To show us how much better or worse off we are. We don’t need it to make us feel good about ourselves. We don’t need it so as to compare and contrast our unique selves. Living outside the box can free us from all that. Ridding ourselves of the box can redefine everything.
When we take apart that box and allow people to stand free and exposed, we see that there is beauty in difference. We don’t have to be the same to be accepted. Being different is better.
Being who we are is already enough.
And those of us who believe this to be true must ensure that others come to understand it too. That others come to the same realization: that people were never meant to live in boxes. That we were meant to live wildly, free- in wide open spaces. We were meant to live life with abandon. And in so doing- in acknowledging and celebrating the beauty of difference, we can rid ourselves of the boxes that hem us in.