Every person is born in a box. Various factors create the metaphorical walls of these boxes such as religion, race, language, familial traditions, and so on. Often these boxes serve to limit us and our potential, not allowing us to be our full creative selves. We might begin to feel the need to rebel, to break out and escape them. These boxes are our collective realities; they are the societal norm we accept, almost a safety zone. Searching for the courage to overcome the fear of breaking out of the box became a driving factor in a majority of my life choices.
On the one hand, we are born in a box, safe, warm and familiar, and on the other hand, we want or have to branch out. Essentially, our decision boils down to conform versus escape; stay inside or go outside? The concept of a metaphorical box has always fascinated me – the idea that anything outside of it is not accepted, not recognized, and not validated and that everything inside of it is as it should be. This box kept me contained for most of my life. The walls were constructed of the foundations of Indian culture; of classical dance, visits to the temple, and delectable Kashmiri food, the kind I was expected to cook for my future husband.
The box became my inspiration for researching the idea of opposition in an academic sense, within the context of consumer behavior. Opposition is defined as “…the relation between two propositions in virtue of which the truth or falsity of one of them determines the truth or falsity of the other,” or “the act of opposing, or the state of being opposed by way of comparison or contrast.” The inside/outside contrast of the box forms what I call the most basic opposition we all face in life. In my case, I was raised to have one of three vocational choices: doctor, scientist, or engineer, until I would eventually achieve the most sought after career: wife. In my freshman year of engineering at Rice University, while struggling to find my own identity, I first became aware that I was living in a box.
It was then that I realized among many other things that other American girls weren’t taken to India at age 19 to pick a fiancé they had never met before like I was. But I followed suit, got engaged in 7 days in India, stayed married for over 20 years, and remained in the box. The concept and importance of opposition, as a way of making decisions and a way of viewing information, seems to be a pervasive force in our lives and one that deserves to be better understood. What I came to realize in my life was that by making oppositional decisions, I could find ways to escape the box.
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