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.
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, of being too complex, 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.
Hi, there. Let me introduce myself. I’m Lindsay and I don’t claim a political party. Why? Because I’m an empath, which means I can easily put myself in your shoes and feel your pain. Therefore, I can’t possibly belong to one side or the other; that’s too simple. For me, nothing is black and white; I prefer to dwell in the shades of grey. I am completely unable to adopt ideas without attaching humans to them. Let’s talk 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 speak on it.
I’m also a Christian. Some people know me as a “Mormon.” Do I have seven kids and drive a mini van and live in Utah? Actually, no—none of the above. Do I hate gay people? (A real question I’ve been asked). No, I love them. I love everyone. Do I disagree with their lifestyle? No. Their lifestyle is theirs to live. But doesn’t that go against my religion? Nope. God gave me agency and a brain and a heart. I am not tethered to a strict set of beliefs: I create my own belief system. But then I’m not a “true” Christian, right? And to that I say, what is “true?” To me, living my truth looks like living like Christ—the way I believe He lived based on my study of His life: with love, empathy, compassion and free of judgment. Furthermore, my truth is MINE, and God helped me find it. It’s allowed to be different from YOURS and THEIRS.
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 also an English teacher who despises Shakespeare.
I teach fitness classes and eat junk food.
I’m both a stay-at-home mom and a career woman.
I am reserved and outspoken.
I am a Christian and have liberal viewpoints.
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. The paradoxes go on and on.
As an almost 34 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. And it is ever-changing, because I am allowed to change my mind. This is called evolving, and this is a natural part of being human. 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 He wants 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.
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 the small-minded, the complacent, the fearful. But some of us aren’t afraid. Some of us are curious as hell.
And when some of us aren’t afraid, many of us start to not be afraid. Courage is contagious.
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 right and wrong, 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 ourselves without having to justify ourselves.
Let’s normalize messy.
Let’s be as contradictory and indecisive on the streets as we are in our most intimate friendships.
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.
Let’s look outward for support and inspiration, and inward for purpose and truth.
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 everything about yourself.
I am listening.