The Outcast. The All-Star. The Class Clown. The Freak.
The Slut. The Liar. The Weirdo. The Black Sheep.
The Quiet One. The Snitch. The Spoiled Brat. The Athlete.
The Bank Geek. The Rebel. The Good Girl. The Groupie.
In life, we oftentimes exist in a boxing ring. Some of our labels are our opponents and some are our masks. We are either throwing a punch at one which has been forced upon us, or we are dodging, ducking and rendering ourselves bloody in an effort to maintain one we are hiding behind.
Labeling others creates a false sense of comfort within us. It forges a feeling that we can encapsulate and wrap our heads around the totality of what that person is, thereby creating a point of reference for determining what we can expect from that person. What if the majority of the time, we are way off base? What if the “why” behind the “what” you see is not what you presume it to be?
Newsflash: You don’t know everything!
Consider all of the labels you have been branded with. Perhaps some you wear like a badge, some like a medal and some you wear like The Scarlet Letter. Whatever they may be, I ask that you give yourself permission to peel them back and discard them one-by-one.
Sometimes The Labels Are Way Off Base, Anyway…
I grew up in a loving, closely-knit, conservative family. Although the loving and the loyalty came naturally to me, I was a free spirit from the time I came out of the womb. I wasn’t the type of child who just believed something merely because I was instructed to. I hungered for deeper understanding that no “this is the correct path and is therefore what you should believe” could pacify. I longed to explore. I needed to taste, touch and even get burned. I had an itch, and it needed to be scratched.
It wasn’t enough to be told that something was true; I needed to experience that truth deep within the fiber of my own being. I needed it to penetrate me, wash through me and become alive within me. I needed to feel in flow through my veins. I needed my tongue to taste the fruit and my feet to touch the soil.
Looking back, I realize my restlessness wasn’t so much for the sake of rebellion or defiance as it was for a deep, organic curiosity for life and appetite for understanding. Just being told that something was a certain way and that I should accept it caused me to feel caged. It only fueled my curiosity and hunger for what was on the other side of the safety of my bubble.
I often felt confined and as though I was surrounded by people who were blind-folded. Trying to force myself to not challenge what I was told felt like attempting to force a shoe on my foot. My toes were always cramping.
There was a relentless desire for exploration, and being told that something was “good” simply because it was “the norm” was almost irrelevant to me. In many aspects, I was like a mad scientist – testing and reformulating every rule and concept I was given. By the age of 15, I was almost a professional at pushing mental and emotional buttons. However, I now realize that my ultimate goal was never to defy or upset anyone; I was just trying to figure out who I was.
If you were to peer into my childhood and youth from the outside, “the rebel” would be an appropriate label. I often terrified my parents with my strong will, boldness and restless spirit, however I am certain those personality attributes have come to serve me well as an adult. Therefore, I am not confined to what such a label entails. It’s irrelevant. So are all of yours.
So, Stop Hexing Yourself.
You are not the competitions you have lost or the races you have won. You are not the lies you have told. You are not your failed marriages. You are not the train you stepped off of. You are not the kid who was picked on in high school or the kid who was worshipped, either. You are not the poor little girl who grew up on the wrong side of town. That is something you experienced and a road you ventured, but it does not define who you are.
You are not the skeletons in your closet. You are not the mistakes which make you cringe, make you shake and provoke you to want to hide your face. None of those things, if even true, make up the totality of the story of you.
Stop allowing those stupid labels to either serve as a crutch or cripple you. You are not who your past says you or, nor anyone else for that matter. Your worth is not confined to being the villain, the victim, the “other woman” or the “wannabe”. You are who you choose to be now. This moment. Today. This is where the power is.
Stop hexing and imprisoning yourself with a stupid collection of labels.
“I’ve Been Labeled Wonderful Things & Awful Things, But Not A Single One Defines Me…”
I’m the girl who shamefully rekindled a relationship with her boyfriend after he spit in her face, but I’m also the girl who later stood up, dusted herself off and walked away triumphantly. I’m the girl who once feared I would never be acceptable to others if they knew painful things I’d been through, but I’m also the girl who has forced herself to be brave and share some of her most shameful skeletons for the sake of hopefully inspiring others to do the same.
I’m the girl who once fought to bury the truth, but I’m also the girl who now boldly shouts it from the rooftops. I’m a girl who has been weak and a girl who has been strong, but I am limited to neither. I’ve been labeled wonderful things and awful things, but not a single one defines me. I am not my labels, past or present. Neither are you.
I’m just being honest.