You Don’t Have To Fit Into Society’s One-Size-Fits-All Box

As, once again, we compile the memories of twenty-five years together into boxes ahead of our next move, it seems appropriate to have a discussion about them.

Dog climbing out of a packing box.

Boxes.

Because I’ve noticed how good society is at putting people into them, as NC reminded me the other day when we were discussing the assumptions people make about her personal choice to become a vegetarian.

Whenever you choose to veer off the straight and narrow or do something different, it seems to encourage the more cynical to shout louder from their soapbox. To use the example of NC, she is often criticised for those rare occasions she indulges in fish, even though her vegetarianism is nothing to do with animal cruelty. Sometimes her body craves fish, and she can’t resist tuna and salmon Sashimi and my smoked salmon and cream canapes at Christmas. As she is a vegetarian for sustainability reasons, she doesn’t see a problem with this. Her detractors, however, suggest that she isn’t a “proper” vegetarian.

Haters gonna hate.

It’s the same with feminism. The uneducated like to put feminists in the box for people that stand against inequality between the sexes, grow out their body hair, and hate men. I wax… and I don’t hate men because of their gender.

In the same way that not all Muslims are radical terrorists, not all feminists hate men.

Making assumptions and boxing people into a group is a lazy path to take. It is also naive and potentially dangerous. For those who don’t bother to look more carefully at a person’s reasons for their beliefs and behaviour, their premature judgment can have have life-long repercussions.

Society – and the old man and I must take some responsibility as well – has tried to fit Kurt into a box for most of his life – an expectation that has made him miserable. The sad truth is that society only provides one box for everyone to fit into and so those that can’t fit comfortably in it risk being ostracised and isolation. The laws of society have limited tolerance for “difference”, which means that there is not enough “give” in the box for the neuro-diverse, the traumatised, or the outward thinkers.

Anyone who has made a profession out of moving house and packing – like the old man and myself – will know that some things don’t fit in standard-sized boxes.

Women, in particular, have always struggled to fit comfortably in the box, because it was designed for men. Meghan Markle is experiencing the claustrophobia of that situation right now. A bi-racial, divorced woman, she is attempting to fit into a box of privilege that has little desire to move with the times. Hers was never going to to be a smooth transition – a plight that Nikki Gemmell summed up in her brilliant piece, “The Audacity of Meghan Markle”, in The Australian last week.

Personally, I hope that Meghan doesn’t make a smooth transition. I hope that she lifts the lid off that bloody box and sets it alight with her critics inside.

We need more Meghans. We need more Kurts and NCs and people prepared to stand up for their beliefs, for those that don’t fit squarely into boxes – whom in many cases, are demonised by society. We should be encouraging society to think outside of the box, not closing the lid on it.

2 thoughts on “You Don’t Have To Fit Into Society’s One-Size-Fits-All Box

  1. I get flack/push-back because I eat a Ketogenic diet (super-low-carb, high fat). I also let my hair go natural instead of continuing to dye it. I’m a single middle-aged woman who doesn’t hate men, but don’t want to live with one again, either. There’s no “box” for me —- I’m just my own “badass” self (my niece says I’m a badass :)).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This hit home.

    For my entire life I have worked very hard to do, to think, to be, even to feel what others expected of me. The word “others” was free floating. It wasn’t just my parents, family or friends, but it was “everyone”. I wanted to be all things to everyone. To “fit in” and be accepted was the most important component in my life. I rated it more important than “being me”. The fear was that being myself (whoever she was?) would cause loss of acceptance, love, etc. I’d be alone – abandoned – with only me – and my quirks – for company.

    My goal in my later years has been reconnecting with my “self”. I have discovered how difficult this is. If you make a lifetime goal of living only as you perceive others want you to be, you lose a connection to your identity. You learn to hide yourself from yourself in order to be all things to all people, with very few skills to find that “self” so carefully buried.

    So I applaud your daughter for the choices she makes – despite the criticisms. She has a pipeline to what makes her the person she is – and has the courage to go for it.

    And — yes — we do need more Meghans, Kurts and NCs. But — we also need those who accept and celebrate them, too. It sure helps.

    Like

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