Thursday, June 6, 2013

Who Makes the Rules?

You don't have to put yourself in a box. Boxes are small. You can't breathe in a box. You don't have to label yourself. Labels peel off. They fall off in the washing machine. They itch and make us uncomfortable.

I woke up this morning and read those words. They felt fitting, and I couldn't help but smile to myself as I read them. Last night I was pondering some of the best advice I was given when I turned 16. It was this: be 16. I thought that meant something different than it really does. I thought of it as the stereotype, the driving and going to parties and being reckless and stupid. I thought those were the unspoken rules of being 16.
But reading that article this morning, and thinking last night, I paused to ask this question: who made the rules?
Who says that you have to be this one thing? Why does everyone seem to have this inability to accept something that is raw and messy and not at all neatly packaged and tied with a string... something that doesn't fit inside a box?
Not too long ago, I told myself I didn't want to make myself smaller for anybody. I don't fit into a nice, neat box. And why should I have to? Boxes are small, and you can't breathe in a box. Boxes are cramped and you get squished and there's no room to grow in a box. There's no room to push the boundaries and expand in a box.
I heard a part of this interview yesterday with Lenny Kravitz who was talking about how his life doesn't fit into a box. He is neither black nor white. And in school, when a teacher asked him to fill out a form and it asked for his race, he didn't know which box to check. "Black," The teacher told him. His mother said this, "You are both black and white. But all anybody is ever going to see you as is black."
I am not one thing. Neither are you. I am not easily defined, a label, something able to fit into a small box. And I don't think you are either.
I can be whatever I want to be. I can put as many things after "I am ______" as I like
You can spend your life living in that box, with no space to grow and push boundaries, no room to explore, or you can spend your life creating your own life, proving all those people who said you were only one thing wrong.
I am not only one thing. I am everything.
Just because the world has this intense desire to put you in a box and pack you neatly away doesn't mean you have to listen. Break the rules. Make your own rules! This is your life and it's time you started living it.
I'm not willing to make myself smaller to try and fit into a mold.
The best advice I ever got when I turned 16 was to be 16. And that doesn't mean one thing. It means everything. It means live your life, every single minute of it, because it's your life. Own it. Embrace it. Love it.

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