Setting Boundaries: Restricting or Liberating?
Updated: Jul 6
Sanskriti Pattanayak | India
When I was little, I was taught that I must color inside the lines, making sure everything is in its place so the big picture remains cohesive. Honestly, in art, I think you can let yourself go outside the lines, but in life identifying these lines, these boundaries, can protect you from blurring out the significance of each beautiful part of the magnificent masterpiece which is your existence.
Communicating and being self-aware of your capacity and where you draw the lines can go a long way in ensuring that you are giving yourself room to breathe. These boundaries are like that corridor in school, where you straightened up your tie, smiled at the reflection on the window, or maybe just wiped a tear or two as you pushed yourself to enter the classroom ready to face the day as it's thrown on you. Your boundaries are your safe space, your place to unwind, find solace and get your subconscious to communicate its side of things.
As a student in my pre-final year at university, I often find myself surrounded by more work than I am comfortable with, more than what I thought I signed up for. Every step of the way is either a deadline I need to meet or a potential career-defining decision I need to make. And to be overwhelmed by it all, I have begun to realise, is okay. You are going to feel cornered to define, quite literally in the most cliched sense, where you see yourself in five years.
While it is crucial to use your 20’s to build the best foundation for whatever it is that you want, it is essential to remember that deciding boundaries in these early years of your professional career will only help you grow better and articulate in the finest sense how you want to be perceived, what your expectations are and what environment you would like to curate to help get the best out of your work life.
Just remember that hustling and burning-out are two sides of the same coin and in the gamble of this competitive world it is essential that you take control of which side of the coin you’d want to place your bet on.
Boundaries can be a tricky territory here, how do you create boundaries when what you are working towards is becoming two peas in a pod? Sometimes you might get overwhelmed. By emotions and by new feelings you aren’t used to feeling. You might want space, and that’s okay. Taking time off, by occasionally distancing yourself to clear your mind is okay. But communicate.
Expecting anyone, even your partner, your family and your friends to just understand what’s going on in your mind when you are clouding the way you are feeling won’t help the relationship grow, and that expectation is unreasonable. Be vocal, or at least show in any way what your boundaries are, learn their boundaries, respect each other's individuality and personal space. As contradictory as it sounds, understanding boundaries helps break walls and build compatibility.
Boundaries are essential in every sphere of your life. Yes, there are no gains without pain but with every amazing gruelling workout you need to throw in some rest days when you need it, when your muscles need it, to heal, to breathe, to build. Boundaries on how you would like others to treat your body are essential. If you would rather prefer a handshake over a tight long hug, it doesn’t make you any less warm, loving or passionate. It’s essential to let the people around you know what your boundaries are physically, you definitely owe that to yourself.
Do you ever just get so clogged up with your thoughts that you need to just break down the clutter and make sense of it? The days when everything around you triggers those tiny little sparks of overthinking, of feeling vulnerable, of feeling overwhelmed. Take a step back, take a holiday from work if you need to, switch off your phone, hit that much-needed pause button and unwind, in any way that you like.
Self-care is something you decide for yourself, it doesn’t have to look like how someone else takes care of themselves, maybe a spa day isn’t your way of unwinding, maybe to unclog your brain you need to bake, maybe you want to hit the gym, maybe you want to put your pyjamas on a have a movie marathon.
You can decide that for yourself, but just make sure you are honest with yourself about it. Being honest to yourself about your boundaries is probably the most important aspect of it all. Accepting your boundaries, accepting that they are valid, that you won’t sacrifice your success, you won’t slow down your progress, and you definitely won’t lose credibility if you take time out for yourself.
So buckle up buttercup, take pride in your stride, and appreciate the quiet soundless moments in between the symphony of life!
Sanskriti Pattanayak is a 20-year-old from Bangalore, India currently pursuing her Bachelor's in Computer Science. Her existence summed up in a phrase would be "Unicorn meets occasional Eeyore" (you must get Winnie the Pooh references). Find her on Instagram @sanskriti_11. Her other works can be viewed on her blog: https://sanskritipattanayak.wixsite.com/sanskriti/