Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Art of Labeling

I know, how corny is this? A second post on the same day? I'll just chalk it up to eagerness I couldn't control.

Everyone of us is a product of labeling. In some way, whether it is conscious or unconscious, we have labeled someone. You don't even have to know someone to label them, we just do it. 

However, what we may not realize about labels is how limiting they are.

I've known for sometime now what I'm generally labeled as. I'm referred to as "quiet/shy" and "sweet". Those of you who know me a bit better would probably disagree with this. To be honest, I have struggled with this label for a grossly long period of time. I personally don't see myself as those things. I am definitely not quiet and not shy. I love people. I love being around them. I'm an extrovert. Being in the middle of a crowd is one of my favorite things. It's alive and exciting. I love to talk, probably more then I should (my poor roommate is a saint for putting up with all my chatter). I'm loud and I can be annoyingly obnoxious. And while I don't consider myself to be a horribly mean person (although I was sorted into Slytherin does that even happen?!) I don't necessarily consider myself to be sweet. Nice, yes. Sweet, no. There is a difference.

Not only are labels limiting, but they have the tendency to stick around for a long, long time. In the church I attended for 19 years, this was my label. And every area of ministry I went through or served in, this stigma remained firmly attached. No matter what. And when I did do something that was in-character for me, but out of character for me according to others, I was criticized for pretending or trying to be someone I wasn't. I was never able to be myself. And it didn't just happen there, it happened at school. Different labels, but still ones that have stuck around until now. I will admit, I am fortunate in my labeling. It isn't bad by any means, it's just...boring. Sweet and exciting aren't normally associated with each other. People generally want to hang out with a fun person instead of a sweet one. And that's happened to me before. Because of a label and not having the chance to prove myself otherwise.

I'm not trying to make this a corny "this is who I am accept me for what it is" post, although it may be coming off like that. It's more of a challenge. To myself and to others. 

When I really spend time thinking about it, how silly is it that we do this? Our entire outlook of a person is based off of a few interactions. People are complex. Even the simplest person has many layers to them. Yet because of the labels we put on them, they are confined to one character. And most of the time, it's characteristics they don't even identify with! Can you imagine how many people out there are not who we think they are? And I don't mean that in a bad way. We just never give them the chance to be who they want to be. 

My challenge to myself is to stop. I have lived with the frustrations of incorrect labeling. Knowing how dumb it is, how can I actually do the same to someone else? It isn't right and it isn't fair. 

Foreshadow What's to Come

When I think about writing blogs, I imagine sitting at a cool unknown coffee shop on a beautiful autumn afternoon, sipping on some chai and listening to indie music. Instead, I'm in my living room at home, with a humid breeze coming through the windows and sipping on some hot coffee. However, I am listening to a wonderful indie playlist.

So I have one thing right.

I've realized this is my third (fourth if you count tumblr) blog I have started. I suppose I didn't have to create a new blog, I could have just added this on to one of the other ones. But as odd as this may seem, my other have blogs have sort of created a "theme" in themselves and this one wouldn't fit in. The lovely thing about this blog is I have no idea what it's "theme" is. It can be anything.