It’s not a surprise that throughout life we are taught in particular ways that could be deemed limiting. Categories, perceived roles and definitions allow us to separate confusion and chaos. Our upbringing, communities, relationships, and more can shape how we think, learn and grow.

Throughout my upbringing, limitations were present in a multitude of facets. For education, subject matter was contingent upon the schools and school districts I attended within the cities I lived. My friendships stemmed from family ties, neighborhoods and residences, the sports and clubs I participated in, and in the classroom. I trained in the art of dance, and choreography was taught in counts of 8 to memorize and practice our pieces for performances. For accomplishments (or everyday lifestyle happenings, like obtaining a drivers license or applying for a job), I filled in the blank accordingly for age, race, gender, GPA, and extra curricular activities. Media and entertainment observations depicted reoccurring themes: the jocks & preps were attractive and mainly played football, those who participated in theatre & arts were moody & misfits, and those who received straight A’s were valedictorians and received scholarships to prestigious universities & Ivy Leagues. As I am recounting these particular limitations of learnings in upbringing, I just happened to turn to the TV where the U.S. Olympic Games MINI USA #DefyLabels commercial played and concluded in front of my eyes. Even after 26 years of life there are still messages of how we are attempting to break the confines of labels and stereotypes. 

My upbringing was shaped by perpetual messages of what should be perceived as ‘right.’ Whether intentional, or not – it is important to address that these messages occurred. I do not necessarily perceive this in a negative manner, but sometimes it can be daunting to recognize how the following shaped pivotal years of growth.

Youth are impressionable. Those years prior to adulthood can shape your future incredibly. I was (and am) fortunate to have many family, mentors, teachers, and friends that allowed to me to challenge the status quo. Although, I wish that each day people could be surrounded by the optimism of Kid President – it’s not everyday that such rosiness surrounds you. In my youth, there were days that felt just outright, dang defeating. It felt that any time I attempted to change the mold beyond what people expected from me, I would feel almost an obligation to switch back to what was perceived as correct, proper, or successful to fit in.

I admit that I have felt limited to labels, roles and perceptions that others have seen of me. Even to this day I am challenged by what “success” actually truly means. 

In high school & college, I wanted desperately to reach independence and feel as if ‘I made it.’ I mean, that’s what it felt like I should do because I was exposed to that concept so often through multiple channels of communication in life. You make it, and you’re set for life.

I carried out the roles that were expected of me, because that’s just how life continued to flow without too much disruption. If I moved forward without upsetting the status quo then ‘the sky was the limit.’

There we go again. That word. Limit. Why has there been so much exposure to this concept of limitation? Why does even the sky have to be limit?

What if I want to bust through those clouds with mighty fists, shout from the galaxies, and STILL be able to fly high above while leaping through the cosmos? 

If the sky is the limit, then I cannot swirl and twirl in the beauty above.

So I am working on taking the concepts of limited and converting it to limitless. I am sidling up to breaking beyond the barriers of being limited to my labels.

Now don’t get me wrong – I am proud and feel empowered by (in no particular order) being a female, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, millennial, wife, writer, young professional, dancer, tech employee, etc. But what I am trying to convey is that if I am at the core and these identifications are stemming from me – these roles & labels are not limited to stopping at just that. I can take on a multitude of identifications beyond the standard perceptions. I can be a blog writer, and a craft beer lover. I can be an extrovert, who prefers to be introverted at particular moments. I can be on a career trajectory in one role that could make a 180 degree turn at any time. I can be a millennial that sometimes shares particular passions and hobbies as those from an older generation. I can be graceful and the biggest klutz you have ever known. All of my identifications can continue to radiate in varying degrees without being limited.  

A huge part of exercising the nature of limitless is turning within. I have come to understand the reflections of how people perceive me through my upbringing, but when I reflect upon myself – what do I see? How do I feel? Of course how people see me isn’t wrong, but I feel as if there are undiscovered jewels & truths within me that I need to uncover on my own. What’s glorious is that I can start now, and continue to do so for the rest of my years.

There is passion, creativity and qualities that are germinating within my heart and mind ready to be unearthed.

With each day I feel more capable than ever. It’s an empowering feeling to stay curious about what I have left to discover within. Knowing that life can be limitless allows for infinite room to continuously learn and grow.

I challenge you to take what you have felt limited by, and discover ways that those limitations can become limitless.

Have you ever felt limited by who you are, what your role is, or where you are at in life? How do you find ways to turn your identifications into becoming limitless? Let’s discuss in the comments below!