I remember the day I realized that fences couldn’t keep me in. I was a little girl in elementary school, probably grade two or three, and it hit me, this huge revelation. Probably the biggest epiphany I’d experienced in my whole seven or eight whole years, unless you count the day I deduced that Burger King and Dairy Queen were married (Obviously, right? They’re such a lovely couple. Perfect for each other.).
Anyway, there I was, sitting on the jungle gym, probably on the monkey bars or some other apparatus I’d be way too worried about falling off of to sit on now. I was gazing out across the street, past the chain-link fence, feeling like I was trapped. Not that I minded school (I loved it — I could talk and distract people all day long), but more that I was feeling my first sense of rebellion against a barrier telling me what I could or could not do.
Until that point, I’d always assumed that where there was a fence, I was stuck on the inside of it. Just for the record, this fence was not all that high: The monkey bars I climbed every day were more than twice the height of that measly little fence. It was just that it had never occurred to me that I could choose to climb over it, if I wanted. [Tweet "Until that point, I’d always assumed that where there was a fence, I was stuck on the inside."]
Suddenly, I realized that this fence couldn’t hold me back. It was just a fence. It couldn’t stop me, not really. It wasn’t impossibly high or covered with razor wire or electrified (I lived in a pretty, lovely and safe community). I doubt (though secretly still hope it was true) that there was some troll or otherwise magical authority figure (probably tall) who was adamantly opposed to my traversing the boundary.
If I wanted to, I could climb over it, walk around it, dig under it or any other of a myriad of escape options that are abundantly clear to anyone who’s ever been confined by any kind of physical barrier. Heck, there was a gate: I could’ve just unlatched it and passed right through.
The fence was just a thing. An idea. A suggestion to remain inside. A tangible expression of the belief that it was safer to stay inside than it was to venture outward. The choice to go beyond the suggestion to remain behind was mine to make. The fence had no power, really, beyond that which I gave it over me.
Huh, I remember thinking. If I want to someday, I might just climb over that fence and go on an adventure, because I can. I never climbed that fence, by the way.
I’ve given power to fears and my worries, letting them become things that seem real, impenetrable, impassable. Impossible.
But there are people on the other side of the fences I have built or imagined and there are people on the outside of the enclosures you’ve created and accepted, too.
Not sure if you agree? If you think of any part of your life to which you are resistant, you can bet there’s an invisible fence that you’ve constructed or assumed, and you are granting it power over yourself.
When you give these machinations your power, you create powerful machines that stand in your way.
Can you think of a barrier that you’ve created and obeyed? Can you see places where you’ve given away your power?