12.17.2013

Unmapped Territory



I just finished Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Written, as you may have guessed, in the form of an encyclopedia, the book meanders alphabetically through the author’s life and provides a home for her clever, spot-on, and sometimes sobering observations. I laughed a lot.

Midway through the book—in the “F” section, in fact—Rosenthal writes that she is “not attracted to fiction.” She wants to like fiction, but gets distracted by descriptions of the moon/weather/sky and is constantly wondering, Is this part true?

Later, in the “U” section, she includes an “Update” about how she started to enjoy fiction. She spends several paragraphs analyzing this shift only to come up with the explanation that, “People change. It’s as uninteresting as that.” 
She then says:
Who am I? Oh, yes: I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like fiction, country music, or cilantro. We use these defining truths to help us stay in the lines of ourselves. We think we have to hold on to these labels, we feel comfortable holding onto these labels, but it turns out the labels are removable, you can peel them right off. Okay then, change of plans: I’m the kind of person who likes nonfiction and fiction, and used to not like cilantro but now likes it, but still doesn’t care for country music.”

I’m still lugging around labels I acquired in my tween and teen years (yes-man, not terribly adventurous, bad dancer, etc.) Some of them are harmless—like how friends still give me giraffe-themed stuff because giraffes were my favorite animal in the fourth grade. But there are other identities I’ve been saddled with, or that I wrapped myself in like a cloak, that I know are holding me back.

Can you think of an unwanted label or identity that you can start to peel off? It will likely resist at first, like those impossibly sticky TJMaxx labels, but keep pulling, it will come.

People change. You can change. I can change. Thank goodness.
Though I may never be good at dancing…

(P.S. Em cut a chunk out of her bangs while I was writing this post, so yeah, mother of the year and all that :)