CHECKBOXES

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Checkboxes are interactive boxes that permits the user to make a binary choice between two or more possible mutually exclusive options. They are major part in many lives. Some may not realize it directly, but almost everything they do is driven by the desire to check a box and move on to the next one. It begins with that age old question “what do you want to be when you grow?”, then moves to trying to be in line so as to get there; As if one just become something at a point in life and that’s the end.

So you begin by learning to read and write, go through basic school, then to High schools get good grades, choosing the right College and Major, then getting a steady and well-paid job, marrying, raise a family, getting some promotions, buying your dream car, planning for life after work… and each time you achieve one, you come to the box then check. All these, once ticked, turn out to be nothing more than a step up in the ladder. Owning a house is a major checkbox and at that stage one can give him or herself three (3) stars for such great achievement, no matter the illogical amount of debt acquired in the pursuit of this goal. Then they share with pals “hey I got my 7th box checked”, Bravo and applause!

Some find themselves in the wrong profession, doing the job they hate so much no matter how noble it is to the society, because they saw it as the most secured and as such said that was what they wanted to be, so are doing it so they can check the box.

Some try to marry the right person, others marry for love, others anyone just so society will “Acknowledge and Respect” them. Since in many societies after completion of college and getting a job the next on anyone’s checkbox is Marriage, if you skip that and probably earn a car or house, most people react and make you feel like you ain’t there yet or there’s a missing piece especially in the case of women. But then who says you only need marriage so as to be acknowledged or respected; yet, in all cases, they tick a checkbox.  Love grows, love winds down, but the important thing is still to stick to it, even if it hurts.

And I wonder, when all boxes are checked; what next? Is it just Being There and waiting for death after checking boxes and probably pushing the next generation to do same, or living regretting that you spent time doing the job you hate, living in a house you cannot call home, marrying someone you never loved or loved the wrong person, or see the years past as wasted because you only put your life into a checkbox.  Funny enough you look at a lot of people and you see that they are Just There, and by just there I mean they are done checking boxes so all they do is the routine; wake up, go to work, close and come back home, make supper, if they have a child they prepare their child to go to sleep, they watch TV and go to sleep themselves, and then the cycle begins. Nothing to add up, they are Just There.

Not that I’m against the idea of owning a checkbox but most often people keep themselves in that box, moving their lives in a straight line never looking at sides or letting no intrusion. Well I love and welcome intrusions because I feel there is always something in it for me, being it a single word or line or nothing. It is true that checkboxes can get you to your destination faster enough, but in a life whereby destination means you are out, how then can you call your last checkbox a Destination. Arriving there is indeed somewhere but not Completion.

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Sometimes, when asked to fill out a form we realize some check boxes are in this format;

YES..…

NO……                                                                                           OTHERS

Note that at a far corner there is a different option OTHERS, no specifications or limitations” meaning room for expansion. Can you imagine checking the “others” box or writing outside of the lines on such a form?

When I completed college there was this one place I wanted to work and I had my own personal reasons for wanting to work there. But then it was like a routine that after completion and passing your exams almost everyone goes to Regional Head office, pick up a form, attend an interview, and then you are posted to work at a facility, hardly your choice. My friends advised me to do same and I remember after we attended the interview I kept telling them “I don’t want to work with this group, I want the other”. The expression on their faces was more than what they said; “who’s going to employ you there, you are like garbage to them, you will be useless. Just stick to what everyone is doing”, their words did hurt but the fact is I’m not mostly a “Yes” or “No” person, I’ve often been the other doing the opposite. So they all were posted while I remained at home waiting for my other option for almost 4 months, and the message everyone gave me was “I warned you”, but I was finally employed and guess what? I think they needed me more than anything. Its not the best place to work and being there does not seem enough to me, but I’m not regretting being there because of why I wanted to be there in the first place. Infact it’s like I’m living my dream and I also get to check the box for that. Lol!

Society and traditions have taught us to live life according to a set pattern, a predicable life. Where there is less risk involved and fewer things to lose, also somehow comfortable but enclosed. We find most people making choice like Major in school, Job, worst a life partner they do not want, but stick to it because everyone is doing the same thing, checking the same box and ignoring the effect on their life in future. So we have people in the wrong profession and wrong marriages who are so angry and bitter since they were afraid to switch to the other side. Impatient and desperate that they may get old without a spouse or child so the settle for anything and anyone, because they were only concentrating on checking boxes not what was attached to the box. Where would tradition or society be when you lose yourself in that box, when you lose that job, those friends, or divorce from a marriage that ate every bit of you leaving you in a tattered and unidentifiable state. Are people going to look anyway different at you, from the way it looks at losers?

On the other hand, whenever you pick a box labeled others you are made to expand, give details. So it is in life, when you do not only stick to the traditional checkboxes, you put your self at risk, living on the edge, and daring yourself to become more than you  see yourself to be and above what society defines you or tries to put you. When you tick that other Box, you are saying it out loud “I’m taking control of my life, making choices  right for me although tough, and doing what pleases me, not society, not family nor friends”. Each moment you do that you will know that you don’t need anyone or society, or a Checkbox to do what feels right to only you.

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The Other side is tough sticking to most especially because almost everyone is wishing you fail and gets tell you; “I warned You!. But how do you plan on living on, when you check the last box and have no other vision. But when you stick to the other side you expand your horizon, learn a lot of things,  give your life a true meaning, above all you become an Example that It is always Achievable.

Staying in a Traditional Checkbox you will go no further than those in the box. But switching to the other side alone, you are most likely to find yourself in a place no one has ever been before.

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