Do you ever feel like you’ve been put in a box and can’t seem to push your way out of it no matter how hard you try? If so, do you then go on to think damnit, why isn’t this box just made of cardboard that I can tear through? Why isn’t just a crate with a lock I can pick my way out of? Why is this box an invisible soundproof cube that I’ve been stuffed into, likely by myself, and why are others so keen on keeping me in here?
I’m an actor. As an actor, you get “pigeon-holed” or “type-casted” all the time. You get a big gig as the girl next door, tween-y bopper, rebel or whatever character-type once and you spend a huge chunk of your career after that trying to prove you can portray something else, anything else. I’m sure this rings true for many other career fields, as well. That’s tough. Trying to break the mould you’ve created or found yourself in professionally because you are in fact an intelligent, creative being who is too capable to spend your career repeating the exact same thing over and over…right? Or wrong? Damnit! There’s that box again! It’s hard not to question and even doubt your range or capability when it feels like others won’t allow you the opportunity to prove you are indeed capable of a wide range of skills, talents and achievements. The key is not taking that on. When you catch yourself questioning and doubting yourself, as we all do, you have to acknowledge that your perspective is in your control. Your perspective and the strength to maintain a positive and driven one is the greatest tool you have in changing others’ perception of you. Keep busting your ass and trying until you prove what you can do and don’t forget to commend yourself along the way, whether you get external validation or not.
You know what sucks even more than being boxed in professionally? Being boxed in on a personal level. The professional box thing can be frustrating, of course, but it can also be embraced. If outsiders view you as really good at only one thing then you’re still doing a-okay in the interim because you can still make a living and thrive doing that one thing. You can pursue the rest of your capabilities as passion projects or hobbies on the side to fulfill your little heart’s desires until those professional goals come to fruition.
Personally, however, the box thing can be seriously stifling. Life is about the journey and growing as a person, which means you are entitled to evolve but it’s very difficult to thrive when others seemingly won’t allow you. The only permanent thing in this life is change and we should be encouraged, acknowledged and celebrated for that change. Unfortunately that’s not always the case. If you depict yourself as the quiet one, the loud one, the nerd, the rebel, the bimbo, the whatever other societal category you fit in at one point of time, you can find yourself stuck with that label long after it no longer represents who you are. We’re human…we grow, we change, we evolve, hopefully for the better but it’s difficult for those who knew the old you to fully embrace the new and improved you without holding on to past stigmas. We are responsible for putting ourselves in these boxes initially but once we’re in them, it feels like we’re kicking and screaming for people to let us out to no avail. So what do we do? How do we get out?
Keep on keeping on, I think. Keep doing you, growing and improving bit by bit ever day. Communicate that to others through our actions and be patient while they slowly let you out of your box. Also, acknowledge that you keeps others in boxes too and try to be aware of and compassionate towards the growth and change they are making. We are quick to complain about our boxes. Maybe part of the key to getting out of them is helping to unlock those of others.
What do you think?
Shenae Grimes-Beech is an actor and YouTuber with a highly engaged community of like-minded women who are here to stand up for what they believe in and lean into discomfort, especially when it means doing the right thing.