They’ll Try to Put You in a Box
Boxes. Four-sides of nauseating claustrophobia designed to blot out the real you.
I hate those damn things.
“This is you,” they say. Here, you can work within these parameters — you can choose between A and B.
Last time I checked, there are more than 2 letters in the alphabet and even more distinct capacities within every human.
Humans like things simple
Anyone that doesn’t fit into pre-determined stereotypes is confusing, and people don’t like confusing. It’s human nature to make things easy and convenient — to take shortcuts.
But obtuse categorization creates nothing but problems. If people’s gifts are obscured or even obfuscated because they don’t fit within defined parameters, potential is squandered.
Yet, most people are happy to label you in the name of expediency.
But you don’t have to accept your box.
How to change perspectives
When someone tries to label you, correct them — firmly, with no malice.
For the most part, people are slow to change their perspectives. But remain unyielding, and most will come around.
For instance, let's say you’re a successful music producer who wants to be a rapper. At first, when you tell your label, “I can rap too,” they’ll say things like “We’re only interested in you as a producer.”
But if you correct them over and over, if you say “I’m not just a great producer, I’m a great rapper too” eventually someone will give you a chance. From there, you push further — you play your music proudly wherever you go — so to speak— and, slowly but surely, perception will change.
That’s how Kanye West became a rapper. When he played his first song Jesus Walks for music executives he was literally laughed out of the room. But he kept pushing past the “producer” label. For years, he told everyone within earshot that he was a producer and a rapper. Now he has 8 bestselling albums and 21 Grammys.
So, correct people when they put you in a box. Refuse to accept their labels. Boldly and repeatedly stand up for yourself. Eventually, people will give you a chance to shine.
When in doubt, think of Dorothy Vaughan
Dorothy Vaughan was an African American women living in the United States during segregation.
She was also a genius who was interested in “white” and “masculine” subjects. She’d sneak into the “white” section of the library and take computer programming books.
After years of fighting against traditional labels, she joined NASA.
If Dorothy Vaughan can succeed during a time of intense discrimination against African Americans and women, you can break out of your box. None of us experience anything close to the pushback she received.
So, screw boxes. You are an exceptional human being with a unique blend of talents. Break out of your box, and show the world your full potential.