Labels are for Sippy Cups, Not People
I am “Quiet,” or so they say.
We all have “labels” that others put on us, or that we impose upon ourselves. Some are good, and some are downright nasty. Sometimes, I feel like I’m covered in a neon sticky note mess of labels, desperately trying to dig out and discover what I look like without them.
And tearing them off ain’t easy. It hurts. Especially if they’ve been there a long time. And it sometimes leaves behind a gummy residue, not to mention a bright white spot, since it was covering up a part of us that we didn’t want exposed to the elements.
Where did these labels come from and how did they get here? Some come from our family & friends, some from society and some from ourselves, the last being the worst, in my opinion. It’s true that we are our own worst critics.
What havoc do these labels wreak? They stereotype us, paralyze us and hold us hostage to their demands. You’re a people-pleaser? Go please more people! You’re shy? Then avoid that group of women talking over there. The labels all come together to form an internal dialogue that plays like a broken record over and over in our minds and hearts.
And what do we do, but turn around and place labels on others. She is this, and he is that. Making judgments about people based upon what they are showing to the outside world, which is probably just a reflection of their own self-imposed labels.
I know I am as guilty as the next mama of making assumptions about people based upon surface labels.
It’s sticky, messy, ugly stuff. Can’t we all just stop it? Sadly, the answer is probably not. Because our tired, little human brains need labels to make sense of the world around us. To categorize and prioritize. So we know which way to turn next.
But we can at least try to stop and be mindful of labels and if they are unjustifiably influencing our opinions.
How do we shed our labels? Maybe that’s why I write this blog. To have a voice that I usually don’t claim in a group of friends or around a conference table. To fight back against that label of “Quiet” that has defined me for decades. Whether or not anyone is listening is beside the point. What’s important is that I’m talking, and no one is interrupting me.
Do you have a label you wish you could ditch? Spill it.