What is it like being you? Why labels limit our true selves.

“Once you label me you negate me.” 

-Soren Kierkegaard

I have always had a problem fitting in. Ever since I was younger, I floated from one group to the next, desperately trying to find a space for myself, somewhere I could feel safe and comfortable and accepted.

Yet no matter how long I searched, I just always felt that there was something missing, that the people I surrounded myself with simply did not and could never understand who I was.

Looking back I realize that it was I who was unaware of who I was, of where I fit in, and trying to make others conform and fit into my world views was my mistake.

Now that I am older, one of my biggest pet peeves are those that put themselves into little categories, who desperately need to be known for something so they limit themselves with labels.

Feminist.Anarchist.Lesbian.Gay.Straight.Athlete.Crossfitter.Poet.Writer.

Bleh…so boring.

labels

Labels have been used for hundreds of years to marginalize people all over the world. You’re muslim, well then you must be a terrorist. American? pigheaded and arrogant. Gay and lesbian, obviously freaks who like abnormal stuff.

Black, brown, yellow, unsophisticated, brutish, less than.

Nationalism, patriotism, race, ethnicity, resumes, diplomas, job titles, christian, islamist, jewish,buddhist.

Desperate need to separate us, turn us against each other. Who is better, who does not fit the norm. I am special, look at me, LOOK AT ME.

What truly frustrates me is when individuals define themselves by those same labels. As though their whole being could truly be contained within a single word. Is that truly all there is to you?

Do your thoughts and ideas never shift, evolve and grow as you experience life?

How can you put a box around yourself and say this is who I am, when every single day you may experience a profound shift in how you view life!

Take the word feminist..such a loaded word. It has so many meanings to so many people, each adding in their own personal biases and desires. To call yourself a feminist these days is meaningless.

A more logical way of expressing yourself would be when someone directly asks you your thoughts on a subject, share them without a label. I believe that men and women should be fully equal in political, work and social relations. But even that is too simplistic, each of those areas would require its own conversation, what do we mean by equality exactly? ideas of equality are different among people.

Point being it is very complicated. When I see someones profile and it is literally just a list of labels, I become immediately bored. Someone who defines themselves so simplistically is not someone I want to get to know.

If you are an amazing swimmer, would you want to go your whole life simply being known as that person who swims really well, or do you want to be viewed as someone of complex thought, who enjoys many things and not be defined simply by the one thing you happen to be quite good at that other people like.  Will being a good swimmer fulfill you for your whole life, what happens if you cannot swim anymore due to injury or age?

The truth is that none of us truly know ourselves, we are along for the ride just like everyone else, finding out who we are as the days pass us by.

Acknowledging this mystery, embracing it and allowing ourselves to be honest and open to all that we are and are becoming will release us from the self imposed cages we lock ourselves in throughout our lives due to fear of the unknown.

I will leave you with this wonderful video by the dictionary of obscure sorrows.

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