We all carry around labels that society has plastered onto us. They can become pretty heavy when we believe in them and give them power over us. However, if we look past the labels, we will find that we are more alike than different, and what makes us who we are is a lot more than a stereotypical label. So I challenged people to label themselves, and asked them what they thought about labels. Here are their responses:
1. People labeled me a weirdo.
I label myself a poet.
“I was labeled a lot because of mental illness. People have stigma about me because they do not understand my anxiety and depression. However, writing is a huge outlet for me, and I try to make people understand me rather than changing myself to please them.”
2. People labeled me a geek.
I label myself an adventurer.
“People assume that because I like computers, I never go outdoors or socialize. However, I really like camping and I have a lot of friends. We are so quick to put people in a category, but we are all much more than one thing.”
3. People labeled me a spaz.
I label myself unbreakable.
“I know that other people cannot invalidate my feelings.”
4. People labeled me a troublemaker.
I label myself a fighter.
“People assume things about others because of their appearance, the neighborhood they grew up in, and their family members. They have no clue the hardships I have had to overcome and how much stronger I am despite them. I want to do so much more than people expect of me, and I will.”
5. People labeled me ‘stuck up.’
I label myself tender-hearted.
“I think we label each other to cover up our own flaws. We are not here to please others, but to do the will of God. The way that He sees me is what is most important to me.”
This is proof that we all want to be seen as more than a label. Let’s work a little harder to stop putting people in boxes and start learning from them instead. It is easy to judge and to assume we know someone, but it is hard to understand someone.
We are made up of so many moments strung together, like lights, and each one awakens a new part of us we did not see before. If we take the time to follow the lights in ourselves and others, we will see people for who they truly are. We will see the potential and beauty in all of us and then we can come together; we can combat stigma; we can strive for peace. We are all in progress, and we are all more than the labels we carelessly slap onto one another.