It was a cold Tuesday evening and I was five months deep on the Instagram page of a friend of a friend of a friend, a person I know tangentially at best. A millennial woman, she is. One just like me, one just trying to figure her life the heck out.

Her posts showcased her graphic design work, announced a new podcast she was creating, teased a side project she had waiting in the wings. Her feed was an ode to experiment—filled to the brim with the products of her interests and hobbies, the remnants of an always tinkering creative mind. As I scrolled through it, getting lost in the swirly content hole we're all prone to fall into late at night, I internally applauded her for testing new ideas with reckless abandon, for putting her work out there for the world to see.

At one point I found myself pausing on a particular post, one with words she had lettered scrawled lazily over a photo and, for whatever reason, it suddenly dawned on me that I could do that. I could tinker with lettering or with graphic design or with whatever creative venture felt right on a given day. I could share said ventures with reckless abandon.

It dawned on me that there are no rules. It feels like there are, but there aren't. Not really. Not on Instagram, not in relationships, not in these lives we lead.

We put ourselves in boxes. Neat, tidy boxes all stacked up in a row. I am this. I am that. I can do this. I can do that. I'm qualified for this. I'm qualified for that. At a certain age we put the boxes aside, close them tight, tape them shut. And then that's it. That's all we are. The people in those boxes, the things they represent: the careers, the relationships, the hobbies, the addresses. That's all we get to be.

If we're lucky, someone will come along and open them up. They'll give us license to try new things and to grow more than we've given ourselves permission to. If we're luckier still, we'll open those boxes for ourselves. We'll throw them away, along with our expectations and our preconceived notions of who we're allowed to be in the world.

I know it yet I forgot it, that there are no rules. That we can be whoever we want, do whatever we want. We can introduce ourselves to people we admire. Make the first move with guys we like. Write words that feel too honest and too vulnerable yet too pertinent not to share, then post those words online. Fiddle with graphic design or with lettering or with photography and post the results on our Instagram feeds. Break out of the boxes we've put ourselves in.

The minutiae of our days can trick us into thinking that that's all there is, that we're all we'll ever be. But it's not true. The structure of our calendars and our to-do lists can make us believe we're not meant to branch out, not allowed to try new things—that our 9 - 5 is our life's work forever and ever amen. But that's not true, either.

We live these lives and we fill them with tasks and with meetings and with busyness that's supposed to make us feel purpose, make us feel needed, make us feel important. But sometimes that schedule and that cadence can just make us feel stuck. Life is too precious to be stuck. Life is too short to be stagnant. Life is full of too many beautiful possibilities to keep ourselves in neat, tidy boxes all stacked up in a row.

Fuck neat.

Fuck tidy.

Fuck the boxes we've confined ourselves to.

There's a podcast I listed to a while ago in which Terry Gross interviews Maurice Sendak. You know Maurice, even if you don't. He wrote Where The Wild Things Are, that book that opened our eyes and filled our childhood selves with wonder and with awe and with a healthy amount of fear and, most importantly of all, with the sense of curiosity that's so prevalent when we're young.

The interview is a delighful exchange, one I'd recommend anyone listen to, and Maurice ends it with these simple, poignant, wildly vital words: "Live your life, live your life, live your life."

There are no rules.

Get rid of your boxes.

Live your life, live your life, live your life.