We are all born equal. Each of us enters the world with the same chance to become an astronaut, a racecar driver, a firefighter, a writer. None of us have an innate predisposition to have a better chance at becoming any of these things. But after only a few moments on Earth, society already attempts to put limits on what we will do in our life. By wrapping me in a pink blanket and telling my parents I was a girl, society already tried to place me on a specific track of life. And growing up as a girl, I began to believe the messages I was bombarded with of what it meant to be a girl. Before I knew it, I believed I had to be skinny and beautiful and that I needed a boy to be happy. Luckily, I was able to pull the veil off of that misconception fast, and reveal the truth. Those ideas aren’t reality. It doesn’t matter if I’m overweight or thin; beautiful or ugly. It doesn’t matter if I wear a skirt or a pair of pants. It doesn’t matter if I pee sitting down or standing up. Ultimately, it shouldn’t matter if I’m considered a girl or a boy. I have a well-abled body and a developing mind and that should be all I need.
Somehow, we’re all put into these categories: boy, girl; friend, enemy; musician, athlete; writer, mathematician. All too often, we look at people as one or the other, black or white. But really, we are each gray. We are a combination of good and bad qualities alike. I may be a good writer, but I don’t understand other languages. I may be a good handywoman but I can’t fix a broken heart. I may be a good friend but I’m not a very good lover. And I can be all of these things at once. In Jeannette Winterson’s novel, “Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit,” she tells the tale of a prince looking for the perfect woman. He defines perfection as flawlessness. When he finally believes to have found the perfect woman, she tells him his definition is wrong. Perfection is not flawlessness, she says, but rather a balance of good and bad qualities.
The labels we categorize ourselves with act as a way to identify ourselves. All too often, however, we get trapped within the restrictions of that label, too afraid to reach outside its limits to do something new. Instead of the label helping us to find fulfillment, it is all too easy to let it limit what we think we can do. We become unhappy because we no longer believe in ourselves. But being that we’re free people first, regardless of our sex, gender, occupation, or class standing, we each have the ability to be and do anything we want. Nothing can hold us back except the limits we place on ourselves.
We must work across labels. It’s okay to be a writing, musician, mathematician who bakes cookies on the weekends. There are no rules. There’s only what is. We must free ourselves from the expectations we are “supposed” to fulfill. We must ignore labels and do what we want anyway. We must do it when the whole world says no. We must do it when everyone says we can’t. We must prove them wrong. We can. There will always be one person who believes in you. Yourself.