When it comes to money, I’m fairly conservative.

That is to say that I don’t throw cash around, and I generally know why I’m earning the money I’m earning. I know my expenses and I know what kind of unexpected expenses to plan for, and as a result, there aren’t too many surprises. My finances are standardized and relatively predictable.

When it comes to food, I’m fairly liberal.

I like trying new things, going to new restaurants, and experiencing flavors from all around the world. There are certainly dishes I prefer over others, but I enjoy incorporating the new into the old, which allows me to expand the range of my palate over time.

To be conservative means that you adhere to traditional attitudes and values on a topic. That you establish a steady foundation and don’t see the need to upset your stability for a payoff that may not be worth the risk.

To be liberal means you are open to novelty and may be willing to discard the old in favor of the new. It means that you’re accepting the risk that some new approach or idea may not work, because you believe the potential payoff is worth it.

Liberalism and conservatism are two words that have been disfigured by politics. Neither is inherently bad or good, and both need the other to be optimal. If I wasn’t monetarily conservative, I wouldn’t be able to afford my culinary liberalism.

Building solid foundations allow us to jump higher, when we choose to jump. If I didn’t know the rules of publishing, I wouldn’t know which rules I can break, how often, and where to apply the necessary torque. There’s value to be found in total chaos, just as there’s value to be found in absolute order, but both are made stronger when paired with the other side.

Try not to let labels own you, your decisions, and your perspectives. Pre-built brands may be easy to wear, and may serve as filler when it comes to topics you haven’t yet thought about for yourself, but they’re still just boxes. Boxes you contort and strain to fit inside.

Update: April 14, 2017

We need some new words to use in politics, because “conservative” and “liberal” are both too valuable to be devalued the way they have.