Playing dress ups

As I get older (in all of my 26 years of wisdom haha), more and more I find I’m branching out of the “normal” social groups, and conversing with a huge range of people. To be fair, it’s probably got a lot to do with my workplaces to date…

– Having most recently worked at a tertiary institute that prides itself on educating “second chance learners”, where everyone is judged as intimidating, (they’re not… my students have always been amazing – some just wanted a little help to stay on the right path).

– At the YMCA, where I’m working alongside youth (13 – 18year olds), gym bunnies (of which I guess you can say I’m one – what with my not-so-new love of crossfit, weights, and pain haha), and the local board

– Gigging – where I’m working under, with and for all types of people; the intimidating suits, the beautiful people, the thugs, the drunks, the jocks…

The (unfair) point is, we, as a society, have a tendency to not only place people in boxes with titles that we can deal with, but then we judge these people based on whatever box we place them in. Well, I’ve discovered something.

We’re all the fucking same.

The number of bars I’ve walked into where the “suits” walk in, immediately loosen their ties, and undoย their top three buttons on their shirts to reveal the top of a Tool tshirt – coupled beautifully with their Chuck Taylors… or the number of gorgeous women who I bump into in the bathroom at some ridiculously overpriced establishment where they’re touching up their make up, comparing notes on how to best resemble perfection… or the number of “gangstas” who I’ve talked to who have an incredible brain on them, but were told they’d never make it because the school system didn’t work for them, or their appearance or culture was too different/foreign/scary… it’s ridiculous. We have this habit of putting everyone in boxes without recognizing that there’s far more than four sides to any person.

There’s a Maori health model that I often like to refer to called “Whare Tapa Wha” – which basically translates to “the house of health” – and encompasses psychological health, spiritual health, family (or social as the case may be) health, and physical health. I like to add in one more part to the equation though; emotional health. The belief is that in order to be successful in life, you need to ensure that all of these aspects are being catered for – yet in Western society, we forget some huge aspects to this model. We get so caught up in image, or social pleasing, business and doing ALL the things, that we forget there’s a whole other part (or many parts) to us that also needs feeding.

Instead, we play dress ups. We paint an image for ourselves that is mostly fabricated to please the masses and ensure that we fit in to this society of judgement we’ve created for ourselves. The whole X Factor debacle that I was part of for a few weeks earlier this year was testament to this – the number of times I was asked to play a role, or portray myself in a way that wasn’t me was ridiculous. (Seriously. Fuck that). Even lastnight at one of my gigs, when I ordered a Gin and Tonic (my fave drink), I was told I didn’t look like I suited the drink. Really? Do I really need to pander to societal expectations in order to have a freakin drink?

At the end of the day, I’ve learned – through conversation and people watching – that dress sense, drink preference and musical taste aside, everyone’s on their own mission. We’re all complicated beasts of confusion, hopes and nightmares wanting to do something with our lives, but told that we have to abide by certain rules of society to make things easier. We all want to be loved, but we’re so afraid to connect with the intimidating individual on the table next to ours. We all want to dream, but we’re constantly told to get our heads out of the clouds. We all want to make a difference, but are told to get back to our box and continue to do the same shit day in and day out.

Not me. I refuse to fit into any box, or label. I’m an amalgamation of oxymorons, and I revel in that fact.ย I don’t want society to dictate who I am – or who you are.

So whoever is reading this at the moment, take from this what you will. But if you can move past those social boundaries with me, maybe together, we can actually shift this social dynamic and start celebrating PEOPLE as opposed to status.


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