When a five-year old girl enthusiastically prances out of her bedroom wearing a colorful ensemble made up of bright yellow rain boots, lime green shorts over purple polka dot leggings, and a Christmas sweater her parents smile and say, “Isn’t that cute, she’s expressing her individuality and style!”
If I walked into work wearing blue cowboy boots, a canary yellow dress, and hot pink lipstick, I wouldn’t be applauded for being an individual. My boss would give one look at me and exclaim, “Wow, that outfit is too much!”.
What happens between the ages of five and thirty?
Growing up, our parents and teachers told us time and time again to, “Be true to you!” We are taught to believe that each of us represents a different color crayon in the coloring box that is life. Whenever we were scared to try something new we were encouraged to “Just be yourself!” The fastest way to success was following your own path. We are accepting each other differences. In fact that little girl in the bright outfit may have been the most popular girl on the playground.
This optimistic perspective that we are all free to be individuals dates back to the 18th century – freedom to live our lives how we want is the basic mantra of being an American. But how “free” does society really let us be?
As we get older we stop accepting people more and more As soon as we enter middle school we want to be one of the same. We want to wear the same sweater, have the same hair, and talk the same way as our friends.
This desire to conform always grows as we graduate high school and college. In my twenties I desperately wanted to be like my female co workers, simply because I wanted them to accept me as one of their own. I was constantly comparing myself – trying to mold my own style and personality to be just like theirs. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me, they were doing the same, comparing themselves to someone else and trying to mimic their lifestyle.
Instead of celebrating our individuality we were trying to fit ourselves into boxes. Society would rather affix us with labels as opposed to unique personalities. We are not encouraged to follow our own heart. Our consumerism obsessed world does not leave room for individuals who express themselves differently than how the media tells us to live.
Between the ages of 16 – 28 I reinvented myself too many times to count, struggling to find success and happiness. Who did I want to be, the Funny and Laid Back Girl or the Boho Chic Witty Girl? or the Glam Party Girl or the Preppy Snobby girl? Media reinforced this idea day in and day out. Who are we, a Samantha, Carrie, Miranda, or Charlotte? Which box did I want to check? Which girl would make me the most popular? Which one would make me the better employee? Which one would score me the best guy?
Whenever someone steps out of these society defined boxes they are met with aversion and criticism, especially women. When a woman speaks out for her beliefs with determination and emotion she is called “too emotional”. When a female lawyer cries or breaks down while working on case that is close to her heart she is called “too sensitive”. When a woman is aggressive and loud and says what is on her mind she is called “too brash”.
These women who are stepping out of their boxes are simply labeled as “too much”. They need to tone down their personalities so that they belong. I beg to question, can a person really be too much?
I now choose to be too much. After years of struggling to find a box to fit into, I choose to ignore the set perimeters and let myself overflow.
I’m emotional, I’m sensitive, I’m dramatic, I over think things. Some people have labeled these qualities as faults. I choose to look at them as strengths. These same traits are the ones that make me deeply passionate, spirited, loyal, adventurous, intuitive, and insightful.
I want to be too much. I want to fill my life with too much happiness, too much success, too much love, too much adventure. As corny as it sounds, I want to commit to my personality and share it with the world. And if that’s “too much” for someone to handle, maybe they have something they need to work on themselves, like putting an end to extinguishing their own “too much” traits.
By not allowing myself to be “too much” I’m betraying my own desires and wants. I’m extinguishing any hopes at my most successful and happy life before I even have a chance.
What would happen if we all went back to the grade school mindset that we are all unique crayons in a crayon box. We are all different colors, some are new and pointy, others have been used so hard there’s just a little stub left. Some of us are different and exotic while others are recognizable and safe. But we all can live together in the same box and can be used for a common good – to create a beautiful picture.
How do you want to be “too much”?