I've never considered myself much of a rebel. Even as a teenager, I was not particularly rebellious; I liked my parents, and I liked myself as much as a teenager can, and most rebellious teenage acts had some sort of self-destruction seed in them, which I didn't find very appealing. I was all about preservation of self. No matter how I looked at it, most teenage rebellion never made any rational sense at all to me. As an extremely rational person, I missed the fact that that was exactly the point.
There is a cost to not being rebellious, and I've only begun to see it lately, in my forties. That cost is that sometimes you really need to rebel against the box that you've put yourself in, or the box that you've allowed others to put you in. Many people, including myself, have unintentionally created a relatively small box of potential dreams, realities and possibilities for ourselves. This box is based on our perceived skill sets, feedback from others, society's expectations and limitations, our interests and what we see ourselves as "good at or not good at." If we were not careful, the resulting narrative has followed us and been honed down to grow smaller and smaller and more specialized throughout our lives.
I've been very good at telling myself all of the things that I couldn't do or be, and I had all sorts of statements, ideas and beliefs to back up those self-limiting notions. They made perfect sense. Until they didn't. Until I was so frustrated with myself I wanted to scream. Until things in my life that really seemed to be calling for me, that I really loved, all fell outside my box. Until I was really was interested in doing something new and then I'd tell myself no. Until the pain of not doing the things I wanted to do and living the way I wanted to live was greater than the pain of living the way that I was. I was living a very safe life, but I needed to take some risks and put myself out there. I really needed to rework my boxed-in version of myself, because I was suffocating my spirit by not.
Recently, I saw a friend take a list of notions she had about herself, ones that kept her in a small box, and write those on a small white cardboard box. I was struck by the beliefs she had about herself, as I would have never attributed those very limiting notions to her, but she'd spent most of her life believing them to be true. There were things she had been told and things she had told herself, and they all made her play small. In front of a group of us, she took the box and stomped on it, in a pair of fashionable red heeled shoes. The visual and the noise of her shoe crushing the box will stay with me always as it was so striking. She said she was done with the small box ideas she had about herself. Now that was an act of rebellion that made sense, even to someone as rational as me.
Do you have a box that you need to rebel against, or even stomp on? There is no better time than the present. After all, presents sometimes come in small boxes.
Heather Buck is the Founder and Chief Inspiration Officer at InStill Coaching. She is currently in the process of aligning her life's work with her life purpose. Sharing her writing is a part of that alignment, as it’s how she makes sense of the world and her place in it. You can find more of her writing on her blog Any Moment (Now).
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