We use them for pretty much everything.
They let us know when our food is about to expire.
They let us know how to care for our clothes and household goods.
They let us know what the products we’ve purchased are made of, but labels don’t just stop there.
No, we label each other.
The second we meet someone we begin labeling them in our minds, even if it’s not intentional.
It’s our “first impression” of them.
I used to be the worlds worst about this.
I would meet someone and start taking mental notes about them and assign them to the appropriate box in my mind.
Sometimes I would even do this to people I had never even actually spoken to based off of what my friends said about them.
“Oh, she made out with 6 guys in 2 days?! She’s so easy.”
I think I like to justify that that’s just a first impression, but in reality what that comes down to is some good ole fashioned JUDGMENT.
And I didn’t just do this to others, but I did it to myself.
“Wow I made the honor roll again? Nerd. I’m sitting at the cool kid table at lunch? Popular. I still cry when Mufasa dies in the Lion King?Sensitive. I’m scared of the dark? Baby.”
I carried this type of mindset with me throughout High school.
When I was a Sophomore, I didn’t make the school cheerleading team.
I was DEVASTATED.
To me, it felt like the world as I knew it was over.
I mean I had poured my heart and soul out on that gym floor and I KNEW, without a doubt, that I had just given the best performance of my young life.
I mean this was the BEST try out I had ever done and I was good enough to make the squad the previous two years, but not this time??
I cried really hard that night and slept in my mom’s room feeling so heartbroken, embarrassed, and dreading going back to school.
Everyone knows me as a cheerleader.
Those are my friends.
Cheerleading is everything to me.
Who am I without cheerleading?
Sounds like your typical teenage drama queen right?
But it was at that moment that I realized I was putting my identity in something that did not define me.
And this doesn’t stop when we grow older either.
No, instead of finding our identity in clubs, sports, social groups and the labels that come with that, we find ourselves being labeled by what we do with our lives.
By our jobs.
By our bank accounts.
By our neighborhoods.
By our social media presence.
People assume and act like they know everything there is to know about another person by their own perception.
And that’s a flawed way of thinking because you’ve never had to walk in that person’s shoes.
Nothing is ever as simple as the label we give it.
People are complex.
People are more than the labels that are assigned to them.
People are more than just beautiful, clever, rude, stuck up, brave, crazy, loyal, freaks, smart, addicts, fakes, happy, basic.
There’s just more to them and you won’t ever know the whole story.
And I think that we are failing ourselves and each other by labeling one another.
That we’re holding each other back from reaching our full potentials.
And we can’t live in these boxes of what people expect from us forever.
Just because everyone knows the “you” that you have been your whole life, does not mean that’s the only “you” that you have to offer.
You don’t have to be what others think you’re supposed to be.
Don’t let people define you.
Just because people call you a word and speaks it into existence does not make it true.
You are what you believe you are.
Let’s stop with the labels and start seeing people, as people.
“The only thing you have to remember about labels is that they only matter if you let them stick.” – The young Carrie Bradshaw