Beyond the Box

When people first meet me, they sometimes find it easy to put me in a neat little box. At first glance I’m a Southern Belle who people know as the face of Distinguished Young Women (learn more at, as a well dressed and well behaved girl who follows the rules, loves to sing and values faith, family and service. My project pretty closely reflects what people expect from me—kindness, lighthearted humor, music and a love for little kids and all things magical or Disney. I’m literally wearing a tiara in one of the videos featured in my project. And this is a HUGE part of who I am and of what I value!


A photo of me working at Mott Children's Hospital--the foundation for my capstone project.
A photo of me working at Mott Children’s Hospital–the foundation for my capstone project.

But I am also so much more. A professor said to me last week, “You continue to surprise me. There is nothing you can’t do.” To me, this was one of the highest compliments I could ask for. I love surprising people. I love bringing an unexpected edge of sarcasm or experience or ballsiness to the table. I’ve backpacked 120 miles of the Appalachian Trail, pitching my own tent, cooking my own food and forgoing a shower for a week. Last year, I played a role in our fall production, CAROLINE, OR CHANGE, that is usually played by a very large African American woman. I have climbed the Great Wall of China, skinny dipped in the middle of the night in a random pond in the mountains and performed in Spanish with the world’s greatest Mariachi group, Mariachi Vargas. I love scotch, hate hot pink, am constantly trying to quit cursing and want to go to law school later in life. Yes, I want to play Cinderella and Christine (from THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA). But I also want to play Harper in ANGELS IN AMERICA.

Some of my closest friends often tell me, “Christina, do not let people box you in because they think they know who you are. You have so much more depth than that. What’s exciting is when you allow yourself to be who you are, not who people expect you to be.” This year has actually been a huge awakening for me. I’ve finally let myself break out of the box that others, and in part I, have built for myself. My beliefs and my likes and my dreams have changed and morphed in ways the freshman me would have never imagined and, honestly, would have been afraid of. I’m just beginning to let myself be someone unexpected, someone I’m still learning how to embody without fear or question. To break out of that box and into the endless open spaces is empowering, exhilarating and sometimes scary. I want the writing, photos and moments I choose to feature on my portfolio to reflect that, to reflect the person that I’m just now allowing myself to become.


2 thoughts to “Beyond the Box”

  1. Christina,
    I think you could do some really amazing things with your portfolio with the idea of busting the expectations people have of you. Since your project reflects a specific part of your life that is more expected (the connection to musical theater, happiness, etc), you have a lot of space in the rest of the portfolio to explore other sides of your identity. I think your friend’s quote about not letting yourself be boxed in could be an organizing theme. A main portion of portfolio, your project, being sort of “in the box,” and then the surrounding portfolio revealing different and surprising dimensions of your personality. I’m excited to see how you engage with all the different parts of your identity!


  2. Christina,

    I’ll say from reading this, and from what I’ve learned about you in class, that, like your professor commented, you are continually surprising. I’ve noticed your laptop background with that quote — “And Though She Be But Little, She is Fierce” — and I see that shining through here. Identity and presentation are always interesting topics to explore; they were the themes I worked with when putting together my final Gateway assignment, as I tried to find a way to present material about my grandmother in a way that would be interesting to others. Coming off as interesting is something I think you will have no problem with, especially as you listed here all the different kinds of things you’ve done so far. (I’ve climbed part of the Great Wall, as well; which section did you do?)

    I’m curious to see how you will go about presenting this other side of yourself that does not exactly align with the subject of your project (but that isn’t in direct opposition to it, either). Your portfolio is a great opportunity to let your freak flag fly, as (some of) the kids say these days, and I do not doubt you’ll take full advantage.

    “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” — Dr. Seuss

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