We all have imaginary cages that we put ourselves into. Some of them are tiny, and some of them have a little more room in them, but they’re all made up of our self-definitions. We put ourselves in boxes based on who we think we are. And if you’re not careful, your box can become a prison that prevents you from living your best life.
We define ourselves by the groups we belong to, the things we’re told we’re good at, the things we’re told we’ll never succeed in, how we think we look like compared to others, what we call our “jobs” and many other criteria that we ourselves make up. For instance, you may be the one defining yourself as a black, not good in school, unattractive and other such near-sighted definitions. But what you may not be aware of is that subconsciously, you will try to live up to whoever you think you are, you will try to cut and chisel yourself until you can fit into the tiny box of a definition that you’ve given yourself.
So for instance if you were told as a child, that you were not that bright and that you would do better in sports, you would try to live your life so that this definition becomes who you are even if you were much more than that in the beginning. You would not put much attention into academics, maybe skip studying for exams and fail to pay attention in class, until what people made you think you are becomes who you are. You would cut out your possible smarts and brain power so you can fit into the box you created.
The same would happen when you define yourself as “belonging to a minority group that usually does not succeed in much”. You begin to lower your ambitions and to shrink your dreams so that they can match those predicted for your group. You begin to not work as hard for happiness and success because you believe it will never be yours so you shouldn’t even bother. And before you know it, you end up living a substandard life struggling to keep your head above the pool of bills and to put food on your family’s table.
Your imaginary self-definitions become who you are. Even if you have potential for much more.
You’re too big to be placed in a box. What makes up who you are, is much more complex than what any single word can describe. Remember that those definitions you have given yourself are only imaginary and you don’t have to restrict yourself to them. You can be more than just the good athlete or the girl from the ghetto. You can step outside your boxes, try new things, have fresh dreams, be bigger than your definitions, and live the best life you can.
Don’t put yourself in box. Don’t put yourself in a prison.