Beyond The Limits
It was in my early twenties when I began to grow a somewhat disdain for titles. Titles being the (professional) names either given to us, or those we give to ourselves in order to present who we are.
"Hi, my name is Alice, I'm a teacher, how about you?"
"Nice to meet you Alice, I'm Claire, I'm a lawyer."
I began to question why it was that when meeting somebody new, most of us default to stating our occupation as if it were the key identifier of who we are.
As a fresh graduate struggling to find full-time work in my field in early 2008, I found myself without such a title for around 3 years.
I had been balancing a part-time job at my local Kmart store, whilst freelancing on film projects, playing music and doing some volunteer work in the community. When people asked me about 'what I did', I was never sure of what to answer. Yet I always felt the need to mention my retail job first, because that was the only way I earned money - and was how I felt most people interpreted success.
Upon finally landing a full-time job in 2010, it goes without saying that a sort of relief washed over me knowing that I now had an official title to accompany my new official occupation. Societal expectations pressured me into wanting this for myself, if anything, just so I had a default answer when people asked me what I did with my life.
The funny thing is, 7 years later and in my thirties, I'm back to where I was back then: title-less.
This is the result of deciding to quit full-time work at the end of last year, but not something I am regretful for.
The last 7 years has given me enough experience and insight to conclude that titles (in this case, professionally-speaking) are in many ways insignificant and in most ways, limiting.
They are merely society's way of categorising us, boxing us by type so that we can easily be identified, assessed and marketed to. I acknowledge that for governmental and economical reasons (and as such), titles are important, but on a personal level, as the wonderful-creative-colourful humans that we are, titles should not be allowed to define us.
Working full-time guaranteed me financial stability and status credibility as an employee, but it did not guarantee my happiness. I have learned that I am who I am because of ALL of the things I do/see/think/feel/love/hope/dream, not just because of what provided me my main source of income all those years. In fact, my main source of income was often also, my main source of misery and stress.
Feeling limited by titles had me thinking more about the kinds of superficial pressures that society places on us, especially when it comes to the representation of women. In the advertising world, women are undoubtedly positioned to dictate beauty standards, and as subjects of attaining luxury and pleasure. Whilst there are so many empowering role models and groups advocating to change this, there is still an overwhelming majority of women (and men) who still visualise the female gender in this most basic and demeaning way.
I was confronted one day upon deciding to search the #women tag on Instagram which generated over 17 million results, but only showing top posts due to the below warning:
I couldn't fathom why so many posts presented women so negatively and obscenely enough that Instagram needed to censor them. I couldn't fathom why women, who make up 68% of the Instagram community (Omnicore, 23 January 2017), were perhaps the ones allowing themselves to be objectified through this visual medium. Vanity is rife across all social media platforms yes, but this revelation on that particular day, really saddened me somehow.
Just because some men, advertising, society, or the world view us in a particular light, doesn't mean that we have to agree and succumb to these representations. We are much more than our image, much more than our titles - we are significant, soulful beings each blessed with a unique purpose in life, on this earth and beyond.
It therefore became my mission, together with my sister, to help women better recognise their talents, ideas and dreams and use social media to share them with the world. In conjunction with Operation Beautiful Nation, the Sisters & Stuff #MoreToMe campaign seeks to change conversation and empower women to tell their personal stories, moving beyond image and towards positive social change.
There is #MoreToMe right here:
There is more you too - more to each of us - may we be brave enough to share it.
Make sure to share your stories, adventures, photos, videos and more on social media!
This Week's Challenge:
This week the challenge is to remove the labels we give ourselves or feel the need to accept from others. Yep, get rid of them. Wave goodbye, throw them in the trash- get 'em out. As Eira wrote, we so often fixate on the title we give to one another, that we overlook the rest of who we are or who someone else is. You are not just a student. You are a child of God. You are a world changer. You are a friend. You are a daughter. You are a son. You are a dreamer. We have many labels, yet not one can capture the essence of who we truly are as people. One word or a string of multiples words do not shed light on who we are as people. However, our actions and our words do. Take time this week to be more than a "math genius", "writer", "doctor", "mother", "friend" or "ministry leader". Go above and beyond. Show others, but most importantly yourself who you truly are. Be silly- bust out those cringeworthy dance moves even when people are watching, Cook an extravagant meal just because you feel like it. Show the world who you truly are, not just who people think you are or who they want you to be. Let me tell you something- you're perfect the way you are. Each and every one of us are perfectly flawed. We all have corks and things we dislike about ourselves. Let's be brave. Together let's take off our masks. There can and only will be one you, so why not let it be the real you? There is #MoreToMe than what meets the eye, and I know there is more to you.