Happy New Year, y’all! All across the social-sphere today, people are going to talk about Resolutions and their hopes for the new year and blah blah blah…
I’m not doing that.
Oh, I have plans, man. My brain has been working overtime this week to get myself ready for the new challenges this year is guaranteed to pose, but I’m not going to drone on about it. Because, let’s face it, listening to people talk about what they’re “gonna do” isn’t nearly as fun as watching people do things, am I right? So, here’s what I’ll do instead. I’m gonna tell you a little story.
When I first made this blog, I was thinking big. I had two short stories published, and I read all of those huggy-fuzzy books on “manifesting” and such. So, I reasoned, if I want to make my dreams of being a professional writer my reality, I needed to start behaving like a writer. “The Arrogance of Belonging,” is what Elizabeth Gilbert called it in Big Magic. I bought my name as a domain (a good idea anyway, really) and hoisted up links to all the places around the internet I could be found. I even made a Facebook, but if we could just pretend like I didn’t…thanks…
I truly thought I was thinking big. How does a fish from a bowl know that there’s an entire ocean beyond the pond she was just dumped into? I thought I was being brave and manifesting stuff and stating my intent to The Universe and all that. I didn’t realize that my concept of thinking big was simultaneously limiting myself.
I wrote in all of my bios that I am a “Writer. Feminist. Buckeye.” And I am all three of those things. However, by putting myself into that neat little box with the clean-cut label, I neglectfully resolved to be nothing but those three things on the internet.
Can we talk about labels for a second? I hate being labeled, even by myself. There have been many times when I’ve wondered why people are so obsessed with their labels. Are we not exactly who we are without cramming ourselves into descriptive nouns? The truth, though, is that I know intimately why we do it. Humans need the sense of belonging. There’s that word again: belonging. It’s our instinctual need to be pack animals for safety.
The thing is, I don’t really care for belonging with the masses. In many ways, I feel that, if I’m well liked by the general population, I’m probably screwing something up. I’m not really much of a, oh, how to put it…team player? People person? I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel. Cramming myself into boxes has always been some misguided attempt at understanding myself.
If there’s anything I have learned about myself this past year, it’s that I had no clue who I was until I was well outside whatever labels I could conjure up for myself. Even thinking big was too small for what I am capable of, and I suspect that might be the case for us all.
So, maybe think about that for yourself during this season of reflection and introspection. Whatever you’re cooking up for yourself in goals or resolutions–reach for that! Work your butt off for what you want. But never stop considering that there’s a whole sea of possibilities available to us, lurking in that splendid unknown just on the other side of our wildest dreams. Don’t stop at what you believe you’re capable of. Don’t let earning a label be your goal. Stay open to the possibility that you, too, are a force of nature, and you cannot be contained.