Don’t Pigeonhole Yourself

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This isn’t a surprise to people who know me, but this isn’t my first blog. I previously had a blog about my attempts at printmaking, which was on the same site as my earlier blog that was a web-comic I briefly wrote and drew whilst unhappy with a job situation. Before that I had a livejournal where various friends and I wrote a story interactively. Additionally, I have been known to spin a yarn on Facebook and used to blog fairly consistently back when MySpace was a thing. Still, none of these “projects” led to any long-term efforts. I never really stuck with them through highs and lows, I didn’t contribute unless I felt like it at the moment, and I had few readers; it never occurred to me to think about why until recently.

 

When you look at my web-comic and my printmaking ventures, they’re nothing special taken on their own. They were a way to pass the time. They were creative ways to do so, but they were only important in the sense that they were part of my personal evolution. They were steps I took along the adventure that is my life.

 

None of this should have been problematic, yet it was. Why? Because I tried to pigeonhole myself. What do I mean by that? Well, let’s start by looking at the definition of “pigeonhole.” Merriam-Webster defines the word as such;

 

pigeonhole

verb

: to unfairly think of or describe (someone or something) as belonging to a particular group, having only a particular skill, etc.

2 :  to assign to an often restrictive category

 

How does this relate to what I’ve been telling you about my previous blogging days? Well, when I wanted to make prints I felt the need to see myself as a printmaker. When I was drawing a web-comic, I felt the need to identify as comic-maker. But these are things that I do (or did), not necessarily things that I am. They can be part of my identity, but they do not make up the entirety of my identity. I was restricting myself, placing myself in a particular box, not allowing myself much room to grow as a well-rounded individual. Now I blog about leading a more adventurous lifestyle, but I don’t see myself primarily as a lifestyle blogger. I’m someone committed to living an adventurous life, and I value the opportunity to share this with others. Intrepid Daily is an important part of what I do with my life. I’m committed to it and my readers, but it doesn’t encompass everything that I am; just as importantly, I don’t try to force it to.

 

In his book AWOL on the Appalachian Trail, David Miller wrote, “No way was I going to allow myself to settle into an ordinary life because it was the easy thing to do. I didn’t want to be pigeonholed, defined by my career, growing soft and specialized behind a desk. I would continue to resist specialization and stretch myself by undertaking new endeavors.” And that’s what making a web-comic, or printmaking is to me. Trying a new endeavor. Making web-comics didn’t stick. Printmaking did, as a hobby, but I only commit so much time to it at the moment. Cooking, woodworking, scuba diving, weight-lifting, etc. These are endeavors I have taken part in and enjoyed. I continue to enjoy them when I can, but I don’t feel the need to define myself strictly based on these things. Because to do so would be incredibly limiting for me. Part of the adventure of my life is trying new things, and creating a strict definition of who and what I am sets boundaries on what the next endeavor should be.

 

Most limitations, like the aforementioned, are self-imposed. We feel the need to label ourselves, and it makes us complacent. But that complacency isn’t helpful. Instead, I posit that we should think about what we can do to become better versions of ourselves. We should think about what our next endeavor will be. We should think about what we’re going to try next. We should think about who and what we can strive to be, instead of boxing ourselves in by defining who we are based upon things that we already do.

 

That isn’t to say you shouldn’t be proud of the things you do, or that you cannot identify with such things if that feels right. If you’re committed to weight-lifting and you’re hitting personal records, be proud of that! Tell yourself you’re a great weight-lifter. If you’re a farmer, you can be proud of the fact that you’re an important part of the food cycle. You literally feed people, so by all means, when someone asks what you do, exclaim proudly that you’re a farmer. If you’re an artist, that too is a part of who you are. But don’t let that one part of your identity stop you from exploring. Just because you’re a farmer doesn’t mean you can’t lift weights, paint, write poetry, build furniture, play the guitar, etc. Be who you want to be by doing the things that you want to do. Don’t tell yourself that because you’re a farmer, weightlifter, or artist that you shouldn’t or can’t do something else. There is nothing stopping you from trying new things but yourself.

 

Maybe we can’t all travel the world like action heroes, but there isn’t anything stopping us from making our own adventures, big and small, wherever we happen to be. That’s what I write about here, making adventure in the world in which we currently live; a world of work weeks, bills that need paying, and to-do lists. It’s certainly okay to long for international travel, or backpacking across the country, or running with the bulls. It’s more than okay, it’s necessary. But the city or the state park a few hours away is infinitely more accessible, and if we don’t find the gusto to experiment with a cast iron skillet, train for a 5K, or spend a few days backpacking, then how the hell can we expect ourselves to outrun a bull. That’s what Intrepid Daily is; finding the adventure in the lives we lead without limiting ourselves. The point is not that you can’t have big adventures. You can, and you will. But if you’re not in a place that you can fly across the world yet, you can have a small adventure today. Don’t fear; the small adventures in our lives are the beginning, not the end.

 

So let’s get started. Let’s not pigeonhole ourselves. Let’s try something new. What adventurous new thing will you be trying soon? Tell me about it in the comments. Until next time, stay intrepid!

2 thoughts on “Don’t Pigeonhole Yourself

  1. Allysse Riordan

    Well said 🙂
    I have had similar experiences with blogging in the past. Trying to pigeonhole myself into a corner never truly worked, but allowing myself the flexibility to change and grow has made me stick to my current blog.

    Reply
    1. Wade

      I’ve learned that, for me at least, forcing myself into a narrowly defined label leads to unhappiness. Allowing myself to explore a variety of thoughts, ideas, and activities has fostered much more growth.

      Reply

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