Friday Essay – How do you label yourself and how does that restrict you?

This is another question from goodlifezen.com.

A picture of me with a mustache!

Me with a moustache! (for no particular reason)

There are some ‘labels’ that are simply descriptions, then there are labels that actually restrict.  For example, I am an introvert.  This describes how I interact with people and the world.  I know that large groups of people I don’t know drain my energy.  I know that making small talk is uncomfortable for me.  But when I say ‘I don’t like people’, that is a label that restricts.  I do like people – I enjoy deep, philosophical conversations; I like to laugh with people; I like to make art with people.  What I don’t like are large groups of strangers and people with whom I don’t or can’t connect.

Also, I’m fat.  This is a descriptor.  I carry more fat on my body, especially around my middle, than is probably necessary.  In this thin-obsessed society I get a lot of external feedback telling me that fat is bad.  Because I am fat I am also lazy, ugly, unlovable and undesirable.  Sometimes I believe that.  When I believe these things I stop living my life – I don’t dance, I don’t go out, I don’t shower.  Or I live someone else’s life – exercise hard (for a week), eat only salad, drink only water (for a while).  So, while I probably ought to get my body moving a bit more often I will never again do it simply to lose weight. (this is a good essay about that!)  To be honest, when the apocalypse comes I’m likely to be one of the winners.  I can eat almost anything and gain weight, so it’ll take a long time for me to starve to death. Having to move my bulk around on a daily basis has already made me stronger than the thinnest, ‘prettiest’ person around today.  Plus we all know that the ‘thin & pretty’ message pushed on women since childhood is simply a way to keep us ‘in our place’.  But, I digress.

I give myself the label ‘intelligent’ – and there is some proof to support this label.  But, if I imagine that I am intelligent only because I have a ridiculous amount of education then that makes me elitist and snobbish.  Being elitist and snobbish restricts the kind of people I associate with and the kinds of experiences I might have.  If I think of my intelligence as a tool to help me solve problems, explore my world, and generally live a big life then being intelligent frees me it doesn’t restrict.  So, there are labels that restrict me, yes.  But turned around and viewed as descriptions with neutral connotations I can use them to better understand myself.

Do you put labels on yourself?  Do they help you or do they restrict you?

Be Lovely To Each Other,

Laura

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2 thoughts on “Friday Essay – How do you label yourself and how does that restrict you?

  1. Laura, I found this post a great read and perfectly timed for my current efforts to be healthy through self care. Also thanks for including the link to the blog on kind of-curvy women who like to exercise. Both pieces really clicked. Many thanks and have a great weekend! Lisa

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