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Annie Morris: "The Box"

Have you ever heard the term “being stuck in a box”, this is a common feeling in this thing called life. We face boxes at work, in society, and even within ourselves. We feel as though we are not reaching our best potential, our aspirations, our goals! This box that we blame for keeping us confined in its four walls, not allowing us to get out and be or accomplish what we want can sometimes become a comfort. We start to look at it and think “oh it’s keeping me safe, I’ll just stay here so I don’t have to face the risks outside of the box.”. But if you do happen to get out of your box you may just be moved into another and then another, and everyone else’s boxes look so much better than yours no matter what box you’re in. So how do we change this, how do we break out of our boxes and change this ongoing cycle?


I have asked myself this so many times throughout the course of my life, and yes I am only 20 and I am not super experienced in the struggles of life. But I have been stuck in many boxes, moved from box to box. Let me tell you some of these boxes were really comfortable I even enjoyed them at times, they were safe. And that’s just it I was complacent with just keeping it safe. Nothing seemed to be hurting me, nothing was going wrong, except for the fact that I was stuck and I wanted to be more, I wanted to be better.


So a little back story, I was born and raised in Annapolis Maryland with my mother, Karen, Father, Carter, and identical twin sister, Katy. Already at birth I was “put” in a box. I was a twin, yes, and we looked exactly alike. So we were always looked at as a “package deal”. I give my parents a lot of credit because we never felt like this at home. They never addressed us as “the twins” , always Katy and Annie or the girls. But this was not the same story for out in the real world. Growing up we struggled with fitting in at times because one always seems to come with the other. For this reason we always had the same friends and friend groups. The nice thing about this box was that I shared it with someone else, we were in it together. This made it comfortable, yes I wanted to leave the box at times, but for the most part I was okay with staying in it.


Now this box I was forced out of. How? College. We both decided to go our separate ways after high school and attend different colleges. Not only were we 285 miles away from each other but we were now competitors. We chose to play Division 1 lacrosse at colleges that were in the same conference. So completely out of my comfy, homey, safe box. My sister, my life long teammate, was now my opponent. We went from having the same friends, the same life…to being best friends with each other's competitors and living completely opposite lives. I chose to go to school at Virginia Commonwealth University, in the heart of the city of Richmond, and she chose to go to Davidson College right outside Charlotte in a quaint town. We didn’t know it yet but this was the best decision we ever made. Being forced out of your box is the easy part, I was given the boot and it happened the moment I set foot into my college dorm.


Not all boxes are this easy to get out of, they all don’t kick you out. College sports in my definition is the hot spot for boxes. It seems as though everyone is put in their own box and assigned their own labels, just waiting to be shipped out. And it may seem some boxes are going to better places. Everyone is fighting to get into the next box, no one is comfortable in their box.

In my case I struggled constantly to break out of my box. And when I tell you I felt like I tried everything, I thought I tried everything. I thought if I had the best attitude, worked the hardest, was in the best shape that I would somehow chip away little by little at the stubborn walls of this impossible cube. This was definitely the hardest, toughest box I had been in yet. I look back and I see I was “playing it safe” I was doing what I thought I was supposed to be doing. At the end of my sophomore year our season was canceled due to COVID-19. This was devastating and I was lost. I had been moved from my metaphorical box to a literal box confined by the walls of my house. I had never gone 6 months without playing Lacrosse, what was I supposed to do now? How was I going to break out of my box?


So as one does when in isolation I began to think. How am I going to use my time at home to better myself?


I began to realize that I was stuck in this box in only one aspect of my life. I may have been stuck in the lacrosse box but this wasn’t going to hold me back from my other aspirations I had. I didn’t need to be the best lacrosse player to succeed in life. I called my adviser and we came up with a graduation plan, and to my surprise I was going to graduate in the fall of my senior year. I had no idea.


By the first semester of my junior year, I had declared a double major in Psychology on top of my original major of Health Science. I was so excited I was finally figuring out my future! As this began to happen I began to realize, I can not control the uncontrollables of life. I couldn’t control if the coaches played me or not, that was only something they could decide. But I could control my future and I could control my actions! And crazy enough after realizing this my mindset and perspectives changed. Instead of waking up everyday stressed and worried about what was going to happen in my day, week, or month, I focused on what was happening now. I began to journal in the morning, listing three things I am grateful for, three goals for the day, and three things I could improve on. I found a new appreciation for where I was in life. And I think that is the key ...appreciate where you are in life, like really take in every moment because you are only going to experience it now!


Strive for greatness every day because you are the only one that can control your future. Be present.


And be thankful, for those around you and those who support you.


Once you take in and commit to these three things the four walls that once confined you will be broken down.


I wrote this October of 2021 during my junior year of my undergraduate experience. I am now 22, retired from lacrosse, a graduate student, pursuing a career in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and still believe that this excerpt holds true. It’s hard to break out of these “boxes'' we enter into in our lifetime. By changing my mindset my junior year I was able to channel my energy and motivation into a career, on and off the field, that will impact change. I was able to appreciate those around me and find the real reason I was playing lacrosse. I wasn’t playing to please my parents, I wasn’t playing to be a starter or become a pro lacrosse player. I found that I was playing lacrosse because of the unconditional support of those around me. Because of my teammates who allowed me to gain a family of 36+ girls and memories that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Because of my family who never made me feel that I was defined by my sport. And because of the ability to leave the sport of lacrosse better than I found it.


If you can take away anything from this, take into consideration this quote…(and yes it’s from Mr. Feeny in Boy Meets World)


“If you let people’s perception of you dictate your behavior you will never grow as a person”


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