I’ve been exploring some of the central themes in my life, and trying to figure out how these major themes have existed and affected decisions I’ve made in my life.
I’m realizing the boundaries is something that comes into play a lot for me. A little background: I grew up in as the youngest, only girl, in a rather traditional and hyper-protective Chinese household. Asking to hang out with friends outside of the house required a lot of strategizing, needed assistance from friends, and was only requested when I REALLY wanted to go out. I understand my mom’s reasons for keeping me in, and I understand the irrational/random/spontaneous dangers of the inner-city I grew up in. She just didn’t see why I needed to go out. I was an extrovert raised as an introvert. So, as a consequence of my house rules, I constantly plotted ways to get out — I yearned for freedom.
Once I got to college, I first felt guilty for doing anything my mom wouldn’t have been okay with. I made these own moral and ethical boundaries for myself, internalized by my upbringing. But once I started spanning outside of those fences, I just let loose. I felt empowered to expand my rules, I set my own boundaries, and sometimes I didn’t even have any. It was so incredibly liberating.
In conjunction with learning about social structures and social constructs, I spent my undergrad years researching, analyzing, dissecting, and breaking down the social rules that are invisibly in place, specifically concentrating on sexuality and gender. Understanding the sexuality is fluid, that it can change, that it’s not JUST black and white, THAT spoke to me because I don’t believe that sexuality can be just boxed into categories of being 100% heterosexual or 100% homosexual. I don’t believe in that binary — there’s so much gray area, and it’s our upbringing and our cultures that shape what we we’re ALLOWED to express and feel towards certain groups of peoples. (And I disagree with the term “bisexual” because the word itself further reinforces that gender is the main component to attraction when I see it as seeing connections BEYOND one’s gender. “Bisexuality” also is used in a way to mean the “in between” of heterosexuality and homosexuality; it further reinforces that there are only two boxes you can check off for “sexuality.”) I truly believe that people crave connections, and it should cross boundaries to make those connections in order for us to truly reach our full potential. A person without connections becomes crippled; humans are social creatures. We’re meant to be connected to each other.
In my work, in a work setting and with projects, I’ve been told by supervisors that I excel at working within a few boundaries —not too many rules, but also not completely unstructured. I think that’s why I do well in school. I have the rules of the assignments, and I explore the entire space of how far I can comfortably go within that space.
Even in my everyday life, the way I approach situations, I find myself frequently testing my boundaries. I push the envelope to see how far I can go without getting in trouble. I find myself needing to set myself apart so that I don’t fit within the mold — I refuse to be a part of the status quo without knowing why. “Be a sheep, but be a smart sheep.” As social animals, we have to fit in, but we should be conscious of when we do.
Boundaries are definitely shifting in my life right now, a little bit beyond my own control, it seems. Previously, I felt like I was in control of where I set my markers of how far off the path I should go. This time, I feel like it’s an external force that’s influencing me, and I’m just carrying the marker until something tells me, “Here! This is the spot!” This is a bit scary, blindly following my instincts…