In my last post I said that I no longer want to limit the possibilities in my life or box myself in through labels, such as wife. mother, or what have you.
However, one of the comments to that post brought up some interesting points, though it may have been slightly tongue in cheek. Here’s the comment, in part:
“But can we avoid being boxed in? What about the label ‘poet’? Is that a box? Is what we call ‘freedom’ merely the exercising of our right to choose our own boxes? Are those that refuse to be boxed in unknowingly occupying a box labelled ‘those that refused to be boxed in’? Is there life without boxes?”
Well, I’d have to say that I believe in the individual. I’m not breaking new ground here, I just agree with Descartes: I think, therefore I am. If I consider myself to be boxless, then that’s what I am. It has nothing to do with me if someone wants to lump me into the subset of people who are boxless. I don’t see myself that way.
The only way we know anything about the world is through our senses–what we see, hear, smell, taste, and feel–and through the way we process that information. We alone can define who we are and other people’s impression of us may or may not coincide with that. On a larger scale, society tries to dictate how we behave based on labels, and many of us, myself included, compromise who we truly are in order to fit in. I’m choosing now to minimize that tendency by being a free thinker. Again, I’m not reinventing the wheel here.
Furthermore, I think there is a difference between a label and a box. Labels are for the outside world, not for the one being labelled. It’s like being at a gathering where everyone is wearing name tags. Your tag is not meant for you to read: You already know who you are. The label is there as a way for other people to identify you.
On the other hand, being in a box is a mentality.
What I mean is, I suppose there are some labels that are inevitable, such as being being a woman or being black. While I’m happy to wear these labels, “woman-ness” in large part is the luck of the biological draw. “Blackness” is a description of appearance and/or ethnic heritage. Both of these labels have the baggage of social and cultural constructs attached to them. The problem comes in when there are assumptions, expectations, and restrictions based on these labels. That’s when “labels” become “boxes,” and that’s really what I’m against.
I don’t mind calling myself a poet, though, because for me, that label has nothing to do with restriction. By definition, being a poet is to be without limits.
I don’t want to be a total loner, though. I’d love to hear your comments, whether you agree or disagree. Talk to me.
© Sweepy Jean and Sweepy Jean Explores the (Webby) World, 2012