Stop letting labels define who you are. There's a better idea
Let’s discuss labels. If you know me, I’m a big fan of dumping labels wholeheartedly, but they are not altogether bad.
For instance, if you get to a place in your life where you feel free or need to proclaim who/what you are, labels are needed for that.
“I’m single again!”
However, that’s the only thing labels are good for – grabbing hold of who we are and accepting it, stating it, and basically taking ownership of who we are as a person.
The problem is that once you stick a label on yourself, you’re kind of stuck with it… not just from other people seeing you with that label, but in how you see yourself.
Trying to label ourselves is a bit like putting a label on water. It dissolves slowly until what's leftover is a sad shade of what it once was. The worst part is we're still clinging to that label, so we are not what we could be, because we are claiming to be what we were. Since our eyes are on the past we CANNOT move forward.
Stop self-identifying with your label so much. Yes, it might be a part of who you are. But it isn't you. We all get caught up in it, in the feeling of fitting in, or of standing out. Of having something that makes sense be our buoy.
All of us do it. And we all need to learn to let those labels go.
So, you're straight today. In 2, 5, 10 years you could open up and realize you are something more – Bisexual? Gay? Asexual?. If you're clinging to the straight label, you’ll harm yourself by clinging to a you that no longer exists. And then you call your unhappiness 'middle age slump'.
So you're monogamous today. Perhaps one day you realize you not only can love more than one person at the same time, but that it's okay. However, if your eyes are fully on being monogamous, you could be strangling your own happiness.
So, you're gay. One day you may realize you're in love with a member of the opposite sex. Then what? Do you put your blinders on & refuse to allow yourself that love just because you’re gay? Or do you applaud who you are and open yourself to something new and unique? Doesn’t mean the label of ‘gay’ doesn’t still fit… it might just have a few adjustments.
Another problem with labels: once you've proclaimed yourself, people expect you to remain their definition of that label for the rest of your existence. If you change, they will try and shame you back into that box.
I had that experience a few years ago. I joined Fetlife when it was first starting out. The larger it became, the more 'rules' people stuck to this and that, not allowing anyone to believe anything outside of their rules. I had been in a monogamous group and admitted one day that I could actually see myself happier in a poly relationship. You would think I had declared I was the Antichrist from the reactions I got. That shame did two things - it kicked me in the ass to finally leave the fakeness that is Fetlife. It also shamed me into not accepting that part of myself for a few years.
Throughout our lifetime, we go in and out of labels. They change, morph, all because we age, grow, CHANGE. There’s no reason to mark ourselves indelibly with a label that may not fit us in 10, 20, or 50 years. Except that society wants to label us and we were taught to label from before birth. They say that babies in the womb hear their parents. And how many parents discuss the sex of the baby? Mucking a child’s head up with labels before they are even born.
So what labels can you shuck? I have so many I can’t count them, but I do know a few:
- Once I was an abused child... I no longer paint myself with that label. I survived. I overcame. I moved on.
- Once I struggled with being a girl, when I knew I was a boy. Now, I’m happy with all my genders & the body I have.
- Once I tried to believe in a god, and painted myself with a religious brush... and then one day I realized the only person I was praying to was myself and became free.
- Once I was a romance author, now I'm so much more and am slowly moving on to the genre I have loved since I was a child.
- Once I was shy... now I’m reserved & on the ASD spectrum, and that's okay. I’m not clinging to those labels. Everything changes so fast that I could wake up tomorrow and be the belle of the ball. And that’s more than okay too.
Instead of labeling ourselves with what we are now, let's label ourselves with what we want to become. (And once those labels become real, then we thank them, and move on to new ones.) Thank those labels you’ve painted yourself with for serving you and for saving you and then let them fade into who you were. If you have to label yourself, do it with who you want to be. For instance:
- Today: I’m a writer
- Tomorrow: I’m a best-selling author who brings in millions, has millions of amazing fans, and supports a non-profit I feel strongly about
- Today: I’m happily single
- Tomorrow: I’m in a wonderful, loving, fun, sensual relationship with 2 men
- Today: I’m tri gender
- Tomorrow: I’m the best me ever
- Today: I’m happy
- Tomorrow: I’m expansion
- Today: I climb mountains
- Tomorrow: I leap from summit to summit
So I now paint my labels with what I want for tomorrow.
What about you? Who are you today? Who will you be tomorrow?