Defending the Outer Regions of the Box

Posted: October 15, 2013 in Uncategorized
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By Blake Whitmore, RMU Student

As much as I enjoyed reading Dr. Stern’s post last Friday, “Where to Think,” I have to disagree with it. “Think outside the box” simply means don’t let ordinary rules, societal standards, and normal everyday constraints restrict your thinking. Although the saying has been around for a while, it isn’t one I hear annoyingly too often. If I didn’t think “outside the box” I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

When I was in kindergarten, my teacher gave us this worksheet that asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up. I left that question blank, because I was 6 for crying out loud. I think 18 is still too young to know exactly what you want to do for the rest of your life, but nonetheless my teacher insisted I answer it. Even when I was 6 I was a rebellious, outspoken little child. I refused to answer, so my teacher pulled me aside and started rattling off suggestions. I remember the list well, because it was my first experience in memory of gender profiling.

thinkoutsidetheboxMy teacher asked me if I wanted to be a nurse, teacher, stay at home mom, secretary, librarian, or the First Lady. I asked what “the First Lady” was and she told me it was the President’s wife. I was excited and told her that was it. When I brought home my worksheet to my mom, she asked why I would aspire to be the first lady and not the President. I told her because only men have been President. My mom said, “Don’t be afraid to think out of the box. Just because it hasn’t happened yet doesn’t mean it never will.” At that moment my mom began raising a little feminist who always thought out of the box and for the next two years I wanted to become the President.

My dreams of becoming the President faded to the background of my personality after learning what the job actually entails, but that never took away from the importance of that moment in my childhood. Seven years later I was attending Catholic school in one of the strictest dioceses in the country, Lincoln, NE. I was an ambitious 7th grader who always asked questions, especially during religion class and science class.

I started to notice that after a while my questions weren’t getting answered and the teachers began to be annoyed by my questions. Some teachers and administrators also showed signs of distrusting me. One instance was when I needed a permission slip signed. The school accused me of forgery and asked my mother, who confirmed it was her signature. Discouraged by my teachers, I felt like I had done something wrong. After weeks of frustration I was reassured of my actions through yet again the phrase, “Think outside the box.” A teacher said the phrase in an English class, not directly too me, but it left an impact because at that point I needed to remember that thinking differently is good.

Those moments lead to my realization and coming out as an atheist, a self-identity I consider very important to who I am today. My strong opinions and will power come from the very phrase Dr. Stern hates, claiming is due for retirement. NEVER! If people quit thinking outside the box then nothing will change, rules will be blindly followed, and humanity will be boring. “Carpe diem” has been around for centuries and it’s not going anywhere, so why should “think outside the box”? These words of wisdom should never die.

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