(…and other motivational feel-good stuff)
I recently attended a talk by an incredibly interesting man, Etsko Schuitema. (Try get your tongue around that one with a mouthful of peanut butter)
The talk was largely around the launch of his new book, The Two Sandals, but anyone who has read Mr. Schuitema’s work or heard him speak can attest to the fact that he is a true modern-day philosopher.
And one particular piece of philosophy that somehow worked its way into his presentation was the notion that we put ourselves and each other into boxes and, by doing so, we also run the risk of putting ourselves into bondage.
The way he put it – and probably why it rang so true to me – was this: I might call myself an introvert. And so, in an effort to be a better version of myself, I might endeavour to research introversion and what should make ‘us introverts’ happier and how ‘us introverts’ should behave…
Is it possible that by doing this, we deny ourselves the freedom to simply…. Be? Is it possible that I, Kirsty, have some qualities that I choose to cull in order to fit into my neat, introverted box?
I think we do this with many areas of our lives, and it’s no wonder that we struggle with the feeling of being unfulfilled, the feeling of only half-existing.
Some examples of boxes that we willingly climb into could be…
I am a woman, so I shouldn’t be boisterous, outrageous or noisy. That is not ladylike.
I am a Christian, so I should smile all the time and deny that I have problems, lest the world think that following Jesus is messy and real and sometimes hard.
I am quiet (or so people think), so I definitely shouldn’t make waves by speaking my mind.
I am a mother, so I should live up to the expectation that I am both a superwoman and a complete moron at the same time. (although this is partially true)
We tell ourselves all sorts of lies about who we are, and what it should entail to be “me”.
The Ancient Greek adage “Know Thyself” comes to mind. Although it’s thought that this was originally used as a warning – almost like saying, “know your place” or “know your limitations” – I’d like to think that, to some extent, it also means “know who you are” and, more significantly, “be who you are”.
A great deal of both knowing and accepting who you are boils right down to letting go of insecurity, and the fear that you may somehow not fit the mold. You might burst right out of it. And that’s uncomfortable. It’s deciding that you actually like who you are – whether you are a loud, boisterous woman, or a man who likes Taylor Swift or an introvert who turns heads with softly-spoken, hard-hitting words.
We are not box-shaped people. We are messy and beautiful and extravagant, spilling out in odd places. And as we grow, we change, we morph, and we mess a little bit more of ourselves into the universe.
So trash the box.
You know when a pair of jeans doesn’t fit you. You have that ghastly muffin-top bursting at your waistline, or the legs are loose enough to make you look like a felon. So you trash them.
Likewise, tune into what doesn’t fit you, and stop trying to wear a box that was never designed for your marvelous shape in the first place. Trash it!
As Ralph Waldo Emerson so eloquently puts it:
To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.