Don’t Put Me In A Box

Society loves boxes. It loves to compartmentalize people so that it can better make sense of humanity. It tells us: You are a democrat. Stay there. If you ever find yourself thinking something remotely conservative, stop your brain in its tracks. Only liberal thoughts for you. Enjoy your box.

Oh hi. You are a republican woman? You must be white then, right? And definitely Christian. Do you stay at home with your children, too? Great, stay right there in that lovely box with your kids and Jesus.

Humans wear these labels for many reasons. For some of us, it never occurs to us to rise up out of our boxes and step into freedom. We assume that our confinement is a blessing, and therefore we never take the time to question the possibility of more. Some of us find safety in our boxes, and they keep us from doing the arduous, complicated soul work that it takes to really know ourselves.

Because truly knowing ourselves—in all of our imperfections and contradictions—is a scary thing. 

Some of us are comfortable in our boxes, and we enjoy the connection we feel toward like-minded individuals. No need to come out; we’re good in here. To all of us, boxes provide us with a more solid sense of who we are; they help us make sense of ourselves.

A Facade

But let me tell you something: It’s a façade—all of it.

Because these boxes only make us THINK we know ourselves. In reality, they are nothing but prescribed societal brands stamped on our souls from birth. They are put there to make others feel more comfortable. And they do nothing but contain us and keep us small. They make it so we have to justify ourselves. A lot. They create barriers, forcing us to adopt an “us against them” mentality. Society will continue to put humans in boxes as long as humans allow it. And in the meantime, humans will miss out on our glorious humanity. Our insides will scream that we are so much more than our boxes, but we will ignore that screaming and call ourselves crazy.

We will continue to justify ourselves any time we feel like we are contradicting our “brand.”

We will continue to deny ourselves the joy of being multi-faceted and the opportunity to relate to people who are different than us.

We will continue to feed into the lies that we can only be one thing, that if we ever decided to emerge into our full being without apology, we would be threatening the safety of others. How offensive to be our true selves!

And so, we will continue to cower in fear at all that God has created us to be. Our fear of being different, not fitting in, of being too complex or not in line with society’s “rules” will hold us back from true authenticity. And the cycle will continue forever. Our kids will grow up putting themselves in boxes because that’s what their parents did, not realizing that it’s a false trap; the lids aren’t even shut.

Complicated, Messy, Nuanced, Forever Evolving

Hi, there. Let me introduce myself. I’m Lindsay and I was taught to think in black and white until…that no longer worked for me. I realized life was too complicated, messy and nuanced to hang out in definitive places. So, I dwell in the shades of grey. In some ways this isn’t always easy but in other ways it’s absolutely FREEING.

For example, I don’t claim a political party. And it’s not even that I don’t, it’s that I CAN’T. I literally can’t pick a side.

Let’s talk about a complicated issue: abortion. Do I believe in it? Well, it depends on the situation. But I don’t know every person or situation, so it would be in vain for me to try to give you a simple yes or no. Also, I’ve never had an abortion or had to contemplate an abortion, so that makes me unqualified to have a super strong opinion on it either way.

I’m also a Christian. Some people know me as a “Mormon.” Many people who don’t know me personally but are familiar with the religion I associate with might have opinions about what I am or am not, what I believe or don’t believe. But to be perfectly transparent, half the time I don’t even know what I believe or don’t believe, so they would probably be confused when talking to me about my faith.

And I get it: I might seem like a fence sitter, a wanderer, not firmly rooted, wishy washy, easily manipulated, etc. But what I’ve come to understand is that the more I learn, the more I realize that I KNOW ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. I realize that I “thought” I knew a lot. I realize that I still have a loooooooot to learn.

Not putting myself in a box actually frees me up to change my beliefs and to constantly evolve.

It helps me meet others where they are on their life journeys without feeling a need to defend any certain ideology.

It helps me embrace and appreciate all perspectives and walks of life.

It helps me focus more on the things that actually matter (like being a good person) without having to be tethered to any specific belief system.

Both/And

According to the Myers Briggs personality test, I am an INFJ. That means I am the most extroverted introvert on the spectrum. I like socializing AND I like being home.  

I am an English teacher AND I hate Shakespeare.

I believe in health AND I eat junk food and drink diet coke almost daily.

I’m both a stay-at-home mom AND a career woman. 

I am both reserved AND outspoken.

I identify with Christianity AND have viewpoints that don’t necessarily align with the church.

I read intellectual books AND have seen every episode of “Keeping up With the Kardashians.” 

I loathe the thought of wearing makeup because society expects me to BUT ALSO I like to wear makeup because it makes me feel pretty when I want to.

The paradoxes go on and on. I own these paradoxes. I guess I don’t know how to be any other way than confusing. But, at least it’s authentic.

Soul work

As an almost 36 year-old woman, I have been doing some soul work. That looks like taking everything I’ve been taught, laying it out on the table, examining it and dismantling it, and then throwing out the pieces that don’t resonate with me. Then every day, I work at constructing my own beautiful perspective of this world.

I thank God for giving me a brain and a heart, for trusting me to craft the narrative that is meant for my life, for providing me with numerous opportunities to grow and open my eyes a little more to what They want me to see. And for helping me more fully trust in myself, so that I can evolve without getting in my own way. The world may look at me strangely, but I’ll take that over being shoved into a box.

Walking Contradictions

We don’t have to be this or that. We can be many things. We are all walking contradictions really, and to say otherwise would be to undermine and demean our humanity. We are layered. We are complex. Boxes are great for some people; I used to be one of those comfortable people! I actually don’t blame people who stay in boxes.

But some of us grow out of our boxes. We become unafraid.

And when some of us are unafraid, many of us start to be unafraid.  Courage is contagious.

Burning Boxes

Our world is becoming more accepting, more tolerant, and less into-the-box-shoving, and I love it. Certainly we have a long way to go, but the hope is there. It’s real. I’m grateful to be raising my children in a world that is learning to embrace their beautiful, wild humanity, and to push the boundaries of “shoulds” and “should nots.” We are unique, complicated creations. Let’s not discredit that.

So, I am burning the boxes. Wanna join? 

Let’s create a world where we can explain our thinking without having to justify ourselves. 

Let’s normalize messy. 

Let’s not show up as know-it-alls anymore.

Let’s not be afraid to admit we don’t know the answers, but we are learning, and while we learn we will contribute. We will ask questions, challenge the status quo, stare at society right in the face and say: look sucker. You can’t control me anymore. I was made for so much more than a box. 

Each of us has a beautiful reality to unwrap and present to the world, and we can only find it when we admit to ourselves that we have the choice—the choice to step out of our boxes and into freedom. Let’s own our process so we can own our truth.

Your turn: tell me all of your wild contradictions. I’m listening.

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1 Comment

  1. Deborah

    I love this piece!!

    Reply

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