Mutations (Reflections on Life)

Stay in Your Lane: Navigating the Restrictions We Place on Ourselves and One Another

Arnold Schwarzenegger.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As you may know, I recently started law school. So, needless to say, I’m in a period of transition. (As I write this, I’m feeling a twinge of guilt wondering if I should be using my time and energy more efficiently, but I’ve been reading all day, so I think I deserve a reward…)  One of the things I’ve noticed about the many transitions I’ve made in my life so far is that I always seem to have to give something up–or at least shelve it indefinitely and/or periodically.

Most of the time this problem doesn’t even really pertain to actual transition periods as much it does to me just  having to juggle my different interests. I’ve historically had an especially difficult time balancing my creative side and my professional side. Of course, I know that the words “creative” and “professional” are not mutually exclusive, but honestly, we tend to treat them as though they are. Although I will genuinely aim to be the first, when was the last time you saw a singing, spoken word-reciting attorney? (To be honest, at this point only the people who really know me even know I sing because my vocals kind of got lost in my verses when I started performing my poetry, so I guess I’m not a very good multi-tasker, even when it comes to perfectly compatible activities.)

The main people who seem to mesh the creative-professional combo really well are the ones who’ve became so ridiculously rich and/or famous that they can do whatever they want anyway and no one cares. Think rappers turned actors or entertainers turned businessmen. *Ahem* Jay-Z. We may both be Brooklynites, but I don’t have it like that. I also think blending the creative and the professional is easier for people who are entertainers first. Take Reagan and Schwarzenegger even, but how often do we see a politician turned entertainer?

Some people I know seem to be excellent at this juggling  art and academy act, but I’ll be happy if I still manage to churn out a blog post per week while keeping up with my reading for Civil Procedure. However, I am determined to get better at catering to all of the different sides of myself. I may have many interests, but they are definitely parallel, so there must be a way that I can make them all work. My desire to advocate goes hand in hand with my words (in all of their different forms) and vice versa.

Obviously, lack of time is a big part of what makes juggling difficult, but societal expectations are also a big part of it. Think about it. Why don’t we like rapping ball players? Yes, because many of them are actually horrible rappers, but would we really accept them if they were good at doing both? More often than not, we get used to seeing someone in a certain capacity and we want them to stay there.

I wish more aspiring entertainers finished school instead of feeling like they can’t risk the time or rigid career path if they want to achieve their dreams. I wish Arne Duncan could fight for equal education by day and play for the Wizards by night. (Did you see him play at the Celebrity All-Star Game?! He was robbed for MVP.) I wish Bill Clinton could’ve played his saxophone at B. B. King’s Club in between national and international crises.

Prominent professionals like this need not even make their talents another full-time profession. They should just be allowed to display and pursue them as additional aspects of themselves.  While we may hate to see entertainers switching into certain lanes, think about how excited many people become when they realize that their politicians actually have talent and personality, like Clinton on The Arsenio Hall Show and Obama singing “Let’s Stay Together.” We’re so used to seeing them in one mode that seeing them in another one creates a pop and political frenzy.

So, from this point forward, I’m going  to try my best not to get trapped or to entrap myself in that creative-professional binary. I hope to be able to find the time and the courage to showcase all of the different aspects of myself.

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3 thoughts on “Stay in Your Lane: Navigating the Restrictions We Place on Ourselves and One Another

  1. Pingback: Lessons From My Younger Self: On Looking Back in Order To Move Forward | Mut(e)iny

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