A New Volume is Starting
Chapter 5: The Box- Structures & Circumstances
It took me a long time to understand how these ‘systems’ that we are born into and labels that we attach to our ‘being’ influence who we become. We are all born into a structured system whether we like to admit it or not- religion, culture, school, government, etc.
It’s easy to label ourselves by the circumstances that these ‘systems’ represent. Our role as a daughter, girlfriend, student, employee, the stereotypes or cultural traditions associated with our ethnicity or religion can play an overwhelming factor in the decisions we make in our day to day life. These are boxes that give us stability and help us become who we are today. They mold us into functioning global citizens as well as influence our decisions in figuring out our roles and place in the world. However, it can also be easy to lose ourselves in these roles.
I spent the last months exploring this idea that we are born alone and that we die alone. Coming from an individualistic society, but a culture that is more collectivist, I have found it is easier said than done.
From an individualistic perspective, it is easy to say that it is ‘me’ who matters at the end of the day…the decisions that I make at the end of the day should be for my happiness. I think this is easier said than done, but one thing that this did teach me is that it is always us. Although we care for our families, our careers, or any other external factors, all that we do is for our happiness.
The change always starts with us and we always have a choice. It’s easy to say that this circumstance or that circumstance made us make a decision we didn’t like. However, if we keep looking at these external factors, how will we truly know what our inner voice is saying?
There were so many moments I needed to go back to realize that all of the things I had attained in my life were just ‘things’. They were little pieces of myself that could fit neatly into little cubes that could be tucked away in a filing cabinet only to be brought out on a rainy day.
Then, one day, something funny happened. I was backpacking through Southeast Asia and it felt like all of those neat cubes had been thrown up in the air. It was like they had been thrown up and scattered and all I had left was a pile of mismatched pieces of a puzzle.
These labels didn’t define who I was. Who I am, who any of us are, isn’t and should never be confined to a system or structure. We see these things- culture, religion, government, education, organizations, as tangible systems. What we don’t realize is that they are systems solely made up by our years of traditions. Structures created as a society, made up of beautiful history that has followed us through generations of pain and happiness. The secret to all of this is to acknowledge we exist in these systems, in this complex society made up of expectations. We have been born into the confinements of it, but have also been liberated by its ever stretching boundaries. We have the opportunity to expand these boundaries while also creating our own little structures…our own little stories…our own little myths.
It’s time we stop limiting ourselves as individuals who are bounded by our circumstances. It is time we break free and realize that we are the future who currently is and will be setting the tone for generations to come.