Monday, January 30, 2012

Limitations




I've always been bad at Math.
In the 5th grade, I got my first C+... in Math.
It was the first year that I didn't make the Honor Roll. Ever since then I've been bad at Math.

I always believed that you had to be good at one or the other, Math or English that is. I remember learning about the separation of thoughts. There is a right brain and a left brain. You are either a visual learner or a factual one. You can either write or solve. You are saturation versus a grey scale. So I choose to be a right brain. I chose reading books and I chose writing papers.

By choosing to be a right brainer, I also chose to be bad at math and science. I thought that I might like these subjects at some points in my life. But ultimately, english was my thing, so why try to be good at experiments and factuals, I simply didn't have that left brain. 

What I didn't realize at the time is that this is all a bunch of rubbish. None of it is true. There is no right brain - left brain. There is only one brain with a right, left, top, bottom, front & back side.

It's in our nature to try and categorize. We put people into boxes to organize and make sense of ourselves. There is a box for females and a box for males, there are boxes for ethnicities and religions and there are even boxes for thinking. We call them typicality. I've always hated being a "Typical ______", and it made me SO angry whenever anyone would call me one. Once a girl said to me, "You are actually nice! I always thought you were mean because you were a cheerleader". My mind was blown. I was so upset that someone had judged my character after a sport that I did in High School. I'm such a typical: Mormon, Girl, Blonde, Cheerleader, Blogger, Photographer, Humanities Student, Big Sister, Bohemian, etc. etc. etc. People made all of these boxes and neatly stacked me into them.

But as much as I hated it. I did it to. I would tell myself "Oh, I'd never date anyone at this party because they are all self absorbed and vain" and yet.. there I was... at the party. I put people into boxes. Talk about hypocrisy.

So why is it that we put up with all of these labels? We accept them because they have a truth to them and because not all typicality's are necessarily bad. I am a "typical mormon" because I don't drink or swear. I am a "typical girl" because I like The Notebook. I am a "typical blogger" because I instagram trendy pictures of my feet in the snow. The boxes are right, and so we sit politely inside them without peering out because the small truths kept us there.

This brings me back to my story about Math. I was bad at Math because I believed I was, because I was supposed to be, because that's what my right brain box told me. I actually wasn't all that bad at math, I just had strengths in other places. I imposed those limitations on myself because I believed in the limitations. I accepted my box. Sometimes people put limitations on us by assuming, and sometimes we allow those limitations to make a home in our thoughts.

This act of assuming is possibly one of the most dangerous limits that we can impose on ourselves as well as everyone we come in contact with. How many times have you wanted to say "that's not all there is to me"? How many times have you been surprised by the cheerleader that was actually nice or the Humanities major that scored high enough to test out of college math? How many times has someone proved you wrong?

Erase the line between left and right brain and stitch them back together. Break apart the boxes that you have so politely sat inside. Set fire to them and watch the smoke rise. Expand your life past the thought of what you were and recognize the possibilities you can obtain. 

So starting today I will no longer accept limitations and no longer impose them on other people. Today I will say "I like Math". Today I will give someone a chance that I didn't think they deserved, and hopefully someone will do the same for me. Today I will be the typical Kaitlin. Today I am finished with boxes. 

3 comments:

Zoe said...

I like you.

Brooke said...

such a great post, its so true, assumptions are the worst thing we can do to ourselves and others.

Thayne said...

Wow, Humanities majors are deep....Is that a box?