“You can’t do that.”
“You’re better at this.”
“I want you to focus in this direction.”
“Why can’t you be happy in this space?”
“I think your strength is in this.”
“Why would you want to do that?”
There have been many times in my life where I’ve felt stifled. Weighed down. Boxed in. The words of someone else– a colleague, a professor, a supervisor, a coach, a boss– stuck like super-strong bubblegum to the bottom of my sneakers, snapping my legs back into the same spot every time I tried to pull away. Each day I would wake up refreshed and renewed; bursting with ideas and inspired by the prospect of a new day and the opportunities that lie ahead. But I was promptly reminded I needed to go back into my box, to stay within the confines and restrictions that had been placed on me.
“You can’t hold me back” I would tell myself. “I will prove you wrong!” But boxes create comfort for some– for it’s much easier to keep someone in a box, taped up tightly and stacked on a shelf. You can compartmentalize their abilities, use them for what you need, and don’t have to expend any energy helping them achieve their goals. That takes much more energy. Boxes, after all, are neat and tidy. Encouraging or even simply allowing creative freedom is messy.
But I have decided that these limits are not mine, they belong to someone else. I was not meant for boxes. I was meant for wide, open spaces.
Spaces where I create my own rules. Where my limits are resources like time, rather than restrictions on my abilities. And now that I’ve decided to break free of the many boxes I’ve been placed in throughout my life, I’m rediscovering that sense of wonder and million-miles-a-minute creativity I had as child when I would write short stories and plays for my stuffed animals. The excitement and thrill I had as a young choreographer, when I felt as though my vision for a piece had finally become reality. And the sense of pride and lump in my throat I feel when I know the story I’ve put together is one the subjects can be proud of too.
Who says there have to be so many rules? Why must we place limitations on each other and ourselves?
Go on, climb out of your box. Follow your dreams. It’s terrifying and thrilling and liberating…. and wonderful.
And kick that stupid old box to the curb. Trash day at my house is Tuesday.