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Don’t Live in Someone Else’s Box

by Christine
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So many of us are walking around living within limitations that we’re not even aware are there.

Every day, we are inundated with so many voices around us — our family, friends, mentors, leaders, bosses, colleagues, pastors, coaches, social media, the news, influencers, etc. They are all speaking into us, with the best of intentions, of course, but what they are speaking into us might be from their own limiting beliefs and say nothing about our potential. What I’ve noticed is that everyone has limiting beliefs they are walking around with that they don’t even realize are limiting beliefs. You will see them surface from time to time.

Let me explain with a common example…

The Myth of the Starving Artist

There is a common myth of the “starving artist.” This has been so ingrained in our society that we’ve grown so accustomed to believing that the career path of an artist will be one of struggle, barely being able to earn enough to even put food on the table.

It’s because of this exact stigma of being an artist that I personally rejected being an artist as a potential college major. My mom wanted me to major in art and become an artist, something most moms do not encourage, I know. It’s because of all the accolades I received from all my art teachers all the way down to 1st grade, but with no possible future potential to make money, why would I choose that route?

So, I didn’t. I chose the opposite. I decided to pursue medicine — a safe and respectable job, as society and Korean culture would deem. I started college by studying biochemistry on the pre-med track with the intention of becoming a reconstructive surgeon (to be able to at least apply my artistic hands towards something positive). I had no limiting there.

However, that route quickly changed during my second year of college when I realized that I didn’t want to actually be paid by insurance companies and be under their rules. Medicine no longer seemed to be about “helping people,” but rather about “making money.”

So, I pivoted to the next lucrative field I could think of (staying far away from art). I looked into finance or tech. After a bit of a debate within myself, I went the tech route since I was already tinkering with creating websites anyways and decided I would marry someone in finance and that he would bring that knowledge to the table. (That did end up happening, by the way.)

It’s just so interesting how common myths in society become such solid belief systems in our minds.

I’ve carried this idea that artists and designers make less money than other jobs. When God had me go into design, I was sure I would have to sacrifice my pay by at least two-thirds to pursue where He wanted me to go. I was willing to do it and prepared myself for that reality.

That belief actually ended up being false, and I ended up making the same, if not more, after pursuing design!

Now, as God has called me to move into art again as part of my journey just recently, I’ve been learning the business of art under different artists who have made quite the income in their art business. At first, I didn’t really think it was possible, but the more I learned from them (and did some rough calculations on their launches), I realized they were making WAY MORE money than most of the business mentors and coaches I’ve studied under.

This was very eye-opening. They used different models that fit their customers’ needs with no salesy pitch for anything. They created desire for their products and offerings through unbelievable marketing savviness. I was impressed.

This experience destroyed any lingering mindset that artists don’t make money. To prove the point even more, God brought me to another artist/designer who works with big clients like Google and other large companies and gets paid well for their creative and art services. They make more than many entrepreneurs that offer a “marketable” skill, even those in tech!

I’ve now come to realize that it’s true… if you are skilled in what you do, you can make a living in any field, and a good one at that! In this modern era with social media, YouTube, and the easy ability to create a personal brand, quite literally any business idea, as long as there are buyers who want it, can be monetized.

Have you decided not to pursue a field because you didn’t believe you could make a good living in it?

I want to challenge you to find evidence of the opposite. Somewhere out there, there is someone making a lot of money doing what you want to do.

Why can’t it be you?

There’s room for you there, if that is the will God has for you.

Living in Someone Else’s Box

Many times we are living in a box that was placed there by someone else. Someone else didn’t believe it was possible, and if we end up agreeing with it rather than challenging it, we end up living in that box.

This doesn’t just happen with career choices. It can happen in any area of your life.

Did someone place a label on you a long time ago, perhaps even as a child, and you believed it?

If it’s a great label, like “you’re so smart,” maybe this helped you. But, if it was a negative label, such as “you’re stupid,” or “why can’t you do anything right?” or “you’re not athletic,” perhaps it stopped you from becoming all that you could be in those areas.

The comments can honestly be about anything. It could even be, “I hate vegetables,” and you struggle to eat vegetables now, or “I looooooooovvvvveeeeeeee chocolate,” so much so that it turned into an addiction. You could convince yourself of anything.

I was able to convince myself I hated donuts because I didn’t want to be tempted to eat so much sugar. In high school, I spoke over myself telling myself how much I don’t like donuts. I don’t actually hate them, but I’ve noticed that my “brainwashing” made me look the other way whenever there were boxes of free donuts at any event. I wasn’t phased by donuts or sugary things like that, and it never tempted me again. Now, if I do choose to eat one, it’s truly by choice, not because of an uncontrollable desire, and most likely I won’t even eat the whole thing. It’s interesting how programmable we are.

I know that’s a strange example, but the things we tell ourselves, the things others tell us, the things they say about the world, what’s possible, what’s not possible, and what we’re capable of, have this way of seeping into our minds and then becoming part of our belief system.

In order for you to rise up into all that God has called you to, it’s important to start to analyze and identify all the stories that you tell yourself and that society or people around you tell you that simply might not be true.

Are you living in someone else’s box?

Is that where you want to be?

Is that what God says you are?

Chances are, it’s not.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some limitations in this world. I’m a petite woman. I’m really not made to strive to become a basketball player. It’s pretty obvious. But, there might be some hidden limitations that we’ve placed on ourselves that honestly aren’t serving us and shouldn’t be there.

Are there things you’ve wanted to do but stopped yourself because you thought you couldn’t do it? Maybe you convinced yourself you don’t have the talent for it?

Choose to Reject What Others Believe is the Limit For You

I’ve seen so many people overcome their “lack of talent” for something through sheer grit and hard work.

My fashion illustration teacher, for example. When he went to Parsons, his illustration teacher told him he was horrible at drawing and should never go into illustration. But, what the teacher didn’t know is that this student had a desire to go into fashion illustration as a profession.

I’m so glad that he had the courage to throw what the teacher said to him out the window and work really hard to study the masters of fashion illustration and keep working at it after he graduated every single day. He eventually get hired by WWD (a well-respected fashion industry publication) and then to finally come back to Parsons to teach. Seeing his drawings, you would have never guessed that he was considered “bad” at drawing ever in his life.

His drawings were honestly exquisite. I can be quite the critic about art, and his drawings and style were so effortless and far superior to what I saw published in fashion illustration magazines and books. I know because I did the research myself to check!

Persistence, effort, studying the masters of the craft, refining your work, and sheer grit can get you very far in life. It can even get you to surpass the work of the masters who have gone before you. Your passion for something can take you so far. It can even outdo the skills of those who are naturally talented. I’ve seen this again and again.

It’s Your Choice

So, the next time you find yourself thinking… “Oh, I can’t do that….”

I want you to stop and make a choice. It’s not “I can’t.” It’s a choice between “I will” or “I won’t.” It’s a choice and a decision made by you whether you want to, or don’t want to.

I want you to realize that other than real physical limitations, you can and do far greater things than you realize… if that’s where you want to go.

Don’t live in someone else’s box, or your own self-made box, or the devils’ box. Step outside of it for a moment and entertain the possibility of “what if… what if you can?”

If it is what you desire and is aligned with God’s will, take a moment of courage and step out of that box.

You don’t need it anymore. Go recycle it. Let it serve its purpose of transporting goods, not keeping you small.

You were meant for more.

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