Written by Elsabe Smit
My name is Elsabe. My grandmother was named Elizabeth, but I was the first grandchild and my parents wanted to be original. The result? I have one unique name, there was hell to pay in the family because of the audacity of my parents, and my siblings ended up with strings of family names that they do not use because they are all known by their nicknames.
I think that was an early sign of me breaking down boundaries and surging ahead into unknown territory. Is it a matter of a fool rushing in where angels fear to tread? I did not think so, but then I am biased.
I once had one of those experiences that would not be more bizarre if you make them up. I have a British passport, but also still carry my South African passport. I traveled from the UK to South Africa for a short break.
Legislation required me to use my South African passport when I am in South Africa. I also need to have my British passport available, because part of the job of airport officials is to ensure people have the correct travel documents for their destinations (like a South African passport with a valid visa or a British passport if you travel from South Africa to the UK). If they slip up, people are deported back to their place of origin at the expense of the airline.
When arriving in South Africa, I went to an international foreign exchange agency to exchange £60 for South African currency. This was not a large amount of money and should not have aroused suspicion.
When asked for my passport, I was not sure which one to use (I normally do the exchange in the UK or use a credit card) and made the mistake of providing both passports.
The clerk looked at my British passport and then asked for proof of residence. I provided my British driver’s license which is acceptable throughout the European Union, and in many other countries including South Africa. But not for this company.
They then looked at my South African passport and demanded a visa that would justify my visit to my country of birth – in addition to two legal passports and a return ticket. I soon realized that I was getting nowhere and left without the money.
I went to the next company, provided only my British passport, and got the money within minutes.
These people, as well as my parents, were obliged to enforce boundaries. It does not matter that the boundaries are artificial and impractical. The boundaries are there, and in their minds overstepping those boundaries would have dire consequences.
No matter how well educated we are, we grow up in systems and cultures that tell us to obey the rules and face the consequences. As a result, we understand from a very young age that we must do as we are told, and that the control is outside of us – with other people that have authority over us.
End of creativity. End of audacity. Beginning of lifelong pandering.
Of course, people break out. They use the opportunities that are given to them, and they use their God-given brains and various talents to make the world a better place for themselves and for others.
They become entrepreneurs, artists, inspired achievers in the fields that they are passionate about. They also often become lonely because people start to revere them.
The result is a class system, where one class looks up to another and protest about the class differences. The “upper” class does not necessarily look down on the “lower” class. However, they know what happens when you accept boundaries without question, and they shy away from anything that would put a damper on their creativity.
Once you have tasted the freedom of breaking rules and expanding your personal territory, amazing opportunities open for you. Each opportunity is a test of your ability to conquer fear and each success brings you closer to the self that you were born to be in this world.
And I am not saying you should do as you please in all circumstances. We are social beings, and we need to be aware of how our behavior impacts on others. There is no need for anyone to deliberately hurt other, but there is also no need to blindly obey rules based on the fears of other.
I wonder what those foreign exchange clerks would say when they hear about the three occasions when I was illegally in other countries? Each time a border policeman helped me on my journey (one accompanied me to safe territory at his own risk, one was bribed to let me in, and one pretended not to see me) and I had a wonderful time because I refused to see the obstacles and went for the opportunities. But that is a story for another day.
Go and find your boundaries and start breaking them down.