As I helped my 4 year old son with his homework on a recent evening, I kept on insisting that he “stay within the lines” as he colored in his assignment. This scene repeated itself for several minutes, as we both grew increasingly frustrated with each other. My son could not understand why I did not acknowledge how beautiful he thought his coloring was, all I seemed to see were the “mistakes.” I finally caught myself and realized what I was doing.
Sometimes we do the same thing when we think of our lives. I’m sure there are moments when “staying within the lines” is important; take for instance respecting the limits that laws place on our behavior or even just staying in our lanes when we drive. Moving beyond these sometimes literal ways of “staying within the lines,” what happens when we live our entire life that way? Always focusing on what is wrong? Or never reaching out for more because we can’t see beyond the limits we place on ourselves? We miss out on how beautiful life can be when we don’t take chances and when we can’t see a lesson in what may seem like a mistake or failure. I learned from that short moment with my son that our lives don’t have to be perfect to be good. What we perceive as an imperfection may be what makes our lives that much more beautiful.
So, this is a reminder to focus on the good, savor your life, and don’t be afraid to try something new. You’ll hold up your picture one day and be surprised at how beautiful it is.
Stephanie Perez is in her final year at CUNY SPS, majoring in Sociology. When she is not busy joining her four year old son on his daily adventures, she likes to spend her time reading, cooking, and dancing to her favorite music. After graduation she hopes to pursue a career in human rights law and advocacy.