Boundaries...What Boundaries?

Burbank, California; March,2003;
Joan Marques, MBA, Doctoral Student

While walking me to my car after a lunch well spent, my friend Renzo made an interesting comment to boost up my self-confidence. He said, "you may not realize it, but you have a great advantage: as an outsider, who grew up in a different community, you are unaware of your "boundaries." And that makes you courageous enough to shoot for stars others just perceive as unreachable."

The reason why my friend's statement had such an impact on me was because he was referring to something very actual and burning in today's society: the advancement of minorities. It was his opinion that too many Blacks, Hispanics, Latinos, homo-sexuals, disableds, and members of other groups that are branded as chance-poor, lack jumping into possible opportunities toward improvement solely because they are troubled by an ingrained conviction that they will not make it anyway. Whether the seed for this conviction was planted by society, parents, peers or history does not matter: it is there and it constantly strips potential individuals of their nerve to seize an existing opportunity.

Admitted: there are still too many ignorant people in the world stuck in a mindset of superiority. But should that trigger the consequence of maintaining an opposite group stuck in a mindset of inferiority? Of course not! Dignity is, after all, something you can build up inside, despite what others say or do to you, and even if society tries to "mold" you into a certain mindset, you can always work yourself out of it through careful self-reflection.

Here are 3 main thoughts to consider for everyone who, at some time, may find him- or herself jammed by the idea of having boundaries:

1. Apply it! Education, appearance, self-presentation, belief in yourself, and honorability are age-old perception pillars. Society still hangs too much on these qualities to underestimate or ignore them. So keep your priorities in order!

2. Defy it! History may not have portrayed your forefathers as fortunate or successful, but that doesn't mean you cannot be! The time that we believed in curses or heredity of misfortune should long be passed. You are you! And your abilities are different, even from the ones closest to you!

3. Try it! No matter how implausible it may seem to obtain a certain job-position, a person you like, or a material object you desire: make your effort anyway! You won't be the first in life to encounter a pleasant surprise!

Remember: there are many people in the world that get disappointed, hang their head, and settle for mediocrity, but there are many people too who acquire a position, partner, or possession of which their common sense shouldn't even dare dreaming according to their family, society, or history. Yet, due to their refusal to acknowledge the boundaries set for the group they were "parked" in by birth, they achieve the unachievable. And who cares, then, if the mass of losers in your group tries to dishearten you by calling you names just because you managed to succeed where they did not?

Boundaries are to be removed. Napoleon did not let his small size affect his big ideals, Stevie Wonder did not let his blindness prevent him from bringing light in other people's lives with his songs, Gandhi did not let degrading remarks about his external frailty poison his internal strength, and Nelson Mandela did not let apartheid plant a destructive seed of bitterness and lethargy in his determination to endorse unity.

Boundaries are our biggest enemies, and the way to achieve anything is to ignore them. Start striving for the best. You deserve it. And when others ridicule you or get upset with you remember: they may turn out to be right, but you have the power to prove them wrong. Use it!