“Remember,” calls your Kindergarten teacher to the class over the army drones of 25 crayons, all eagerly attacking their papers at once. You glance at the worn blue crayon extended in the warmth of your palm and then back at your paper: an outlined picture of Frosty the Snowman. “Stay inside the lines!”
They told you so many times that at some point you didn’t need to be told anymore. You forgot there was any other option. Why do we tell each other, tell ourselves, that this is the only way to live?
Height. Weight. GPA. Age. Sex. Income. Number of Facebook Friends. We categorize ourselves with numbers and letters meant to define us but that really only make us the same. Do not be who you are, be who they want you to be. Be the numbers, the letters, the physical representation of what is right, or you are wrong. And the pressure builds and builds like air inside a tethered balloon until one day it finally pops before it ever even got to really fly. When did we forget how to be ourselves, forget to go after what we want? When did we stop jumping in puddles and playing in the mud? When did we become so afraid? You can be anything you want, of course, they told us. Any of the titles society has laid out before you, feel free to have your pick. But isn’t there something else? Of course there is. There is something out there beyond Frosty and his carrot nose and his big top hat that sits outlined before you on your 2 dimensional page. But please, stay inside the lines. It’s time we asked ourselves how we really want to live. How do we want to breathe. How do we want to feel. Because until we do that, each hour we give to a lackluster job puts just a little bit more of that curious and beautiful kindergarten child to sleep. Every selfish, misled relationship numbs just a little bit more of their heart. Each line and label and box makes the breath that passes their lips becomes somehow less, the bright innocence in their eyes sedated and subdued. Where is the kindergarten child you once were? No, not the kindergartner. Not the child. What happened to you? The real you that’s always been there under wraps? Can you still feel it? The power to change it all has always been in our hands, it’s only that we’ve forgotten we still can.