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.
Linking up with Just.Be.Enough. and the “Change the Conversation” writing prompt for Be Enough Me.

Comments

  1. "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."
    Wow, never thought about it, but perhaps that is why I blog as well.

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    1. It's interesting to think about, isn't it? I know I don't do it for the cash :)

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    2. I totally related to that part. I love that our blog Ltd me claim a voice that I don't normally show the outside world...even though I feel it is one of my most authentic voices...I'm happy to have a comfortable platform to share it. And happy to be reading yours!

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  2. And what's incredible is that one little word can hold such weight, if we let it.
    I love the idea of our blog shedding our labels :-)

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  3. I've always (hated) how labels seem to stick... and sometimes, for no good reason. I agree with the earlier comment about how one little word can hold so much weight. I love that you wrote this post!

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  4. Ooohhh...this is good. Really good.

    I will confess though, the labels I place on myself are much tougher and harsher than any label someone else puts on me.

    Labels from others, I can usually tolerate or work with. It's the labels I put on myself that make me cringe sometimes.

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    1. Thank you! You are right, it's much easier to blow off a label someone else gives us than if we label ourselves.

      My husband read this post and said, I don't see you as quiet! Okee dokee, I guess I made that up!

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  5. This is a beautiful post. I'd like to think that we CAN stop it, if we all just rose above. You're right, though, even if we can that doesn't mean we will. One label I wish I could remove is stubborn. I really am. I understand why people have told me that. But I've also changed my opinions over the course of my life. I'm also very open and accepting. It's the nasty words that do the most damage, though.

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    1. Well, there are worse things than stubborn!
      What's that saying..I'm not stubborn, I'm right! :)

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  6. This is a great post. This whole topic makes me so anxious as a mother. I label my kids and I can't seem to stop. Sadie is spirited and Simon is sweet. I know I am stuffing them in a box and my opinion will make a mark on them. I want to stop saying that "Sadie isn't sweet," just because her predominant mode is lively and curious and wild. I love those parts of her, but there is a pull deep inside of me to make her sweet and gentle. For Simon, I am so proud he is so gentle, but I am stoking that in him and maybe ignoring his aggression. Anyway, great post. I love it. I finally realized I liked your page on facebook but hadn't subscribed by email. Looking forward to being better connected.

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    1. Thank you!! I know, I have a hard time categorizing my girl as the "smart one" and my boy as the "rough one", etc. I make a conscious effort daily to stop that, but it is so hard!
      I love reading your blog, too.

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  7. Ohmigosh, you sound so much like me! You said, "Because our tired, little human brains need labels to make sense of the world around us. To categorize and prioritize.", which is pretty much the same thing I said in my labels post. I also mentioned how blogging is a way of letting our voices shine thru. Great post, and thanks for linking up with BOTB!

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    1. We Jennifers think alike! ;)
      I read your post on labels and loved it, too. I enjoy reading your blog, because I always feel like I can relate. There have been many times when reading that I thought to myself, "man, she is speaking to me!"
      Thanks for hosting BOTB!

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  8. oh oh - my label would probably be something about talking, talking, talking.......and, I blog. LOL ok, so that one might be accurate and truth be told I don't mind it.
    the real one I try (and hopefully have succeeded) to peel off is "wild child". For those who think I am still that gal -- I hope my growth as a person, wife, mother is evident.

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    1. Interesting how you are "talkative" and I am "quiet" and we both find blogging a good way to express ourselves. I am sure you have evolved into a responsible version of a "wild child", which is what I would call FUN! :)

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