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I believe in the complexity of mankind; That every person is multifaceted and multilayered beyond imagination, that our selves are so much wilder and weirder than we ever dared to believe. I believe that the human spirit is indefinable; That experiences alone cannot define another to us… there is always more to see. We are three dimensional, fantastical, glorious, yet when we see others, we see in 2D. One only ever knows a small fraction of the picture.
When we see others, we define them in relation to one another. He is buffer than average and plays for the school’s football team, so he is a jock. She is dedicated to her grades and gets As in AP Calculus BC, so she is a nerd. We use these labels and limitations to navigate our world, to make it feel safer, kinder. Yet in the process, we can lose sight of the truth— No two people are the same. We all have our triumphs and tragedies, battles and better days, and we all have so many more dimensions than we can imagine.
Nothing fits neatly into the genres and archetypes we, as humans, love- lives are not comedies, or tragedies, they are fiery mixes of laughter and sadness, pain and pleasure, kindness and cruelty. Good books don’t just keep you safe, they scare you… good movies should show you a whole new world but offer glimpses of landscapes more familiar. People are like that, we are like that. Do not force your parts to add up to your sum: You are more than that. You don’t make sense, and you shouldn’t.
When I was younger, I was different from the other guys, often ostracized for my close friendship with my sisters. My classmates called me a girl and my teacher even attempted to ban me from reading “girly” books. However, once I realized I was an outsider, I defined myself by this label, wearing it proudly like a shiny, new badge. I stopped trying to get along with others, decided I was automatically introverted and bad at sports, and, ironically, began to look down upon other guys. By deeming them lesser beings just for being who they were, I was becoming just as narrow-minded and sexist as those who I saw as my persecutors. It would be a while before I realized that nobody is one thing- not my friends who ran and played with me every day at recess, not the boys who called me names and ate hand sanitizer to scare me, and not myself.
We are not immutable. I am a writer, but I refuse to be just a writer- I want to act, and sing, and debate politics, and read about science. I want to play hockey, because even though I suck at it, the sound of skates cutting through ice and pucks slapping sideboards is still a part of who I am. I refuse to limit myself to a narrow definition when I can let loose and lose form. I am not spreading myself thin- I am allowing my true shape to escape the plastic box in which it has been confined.
Take risks and push beyond what you believe to be possible. Be kind to those who you do not understand. To understand somebody is to limit them, but to believe in them is to give them wings.