Which Box for You?

There are an endless number of boxes into which we can be put. Sometimes it is others putting us into them. Other times we put ourselves into a variety of boxes. Either way, trying to fit into any of those one-size-fits-all boxes never really seems to work. At least some part of us just won’t fit in, no matter what we do.


It’s like ready-made clothing. Most guys my size have a sleeve length of 36-37 inches. My arms happen to be 38 inches long. So I can buy a custom shirt with a 38 inch sleeve or get a standard sized shirt and deal with a sleeve that’s an inch too short. I’ve even been known to buy the cheaper standard sized shirt and wear a custom turtle neck underneath, leaving an inch of inner sleeve hanging out of the outer sleeve.

Most of the boxes we try to fit our lives into come with standardized labels just like clothing. They tend to be general to accommodate most people rather than specific enough to fit exactly. Are we liberal or conservative? Do we call ourselves religious, spiritual, or non-believer? Are we calloused or overly sensitive? Can we be the life of the party or merely a wall flower? Do we consider our lifetime achievement to be a success or failure? Are we imaginative or sensible, interesting or boring, clever or foolish?

Almost every aspect of life seems to come with a limited set of boxes from which to choose. So how do we split the various aspects of ourselves into all the little boxes? Can some of them be altered like a new suit? Can the sleeves be let out while the pants are hemmed shorter? Is it okay to wear a tuxedo shirt with a pair of jeans and some retro penny loafers?

Generations of scientists have worked to categorize nature, yet there is still endless variety as changes within each category continue to occur. Perhaps it is time to quit trying to fit ourselves into restrictive boxes and strive, instead, to be the custom creations we are.

 What boxes have you tried to fit into?

 Have any of them fit perfectly?

 Which ones have you been able to successfully alter?

 Are you willing just to be the custom creation you are?

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About David Bentley

Avatar_DavidBentleyDavid Bentley, M.Ed., is an avid observer of people, places and events. He uses his storytelling and questioning skills to help himself and others think outside the box in an ever-changing world.

Comments about his column can be sent to davidbentley@sanjuanislander.com

© 2014 David Bentley