Monday, July 29, 2013

Labels Lie

I've been thinking a lot about labels.  I learned years ago in a psychology class that labels are helpful because they help us categorize the world around us.  Starting from infancy we're taught to distinguish and label things based on their characteristics.  In turn we're able to make sense of the world around us without getting overwhelmed. So obviously, labeling at its most basic is not a bad thing.  However, it's the process of labeling individuals that I feel leads to complications and confusion.

Are all labels negative? Of course not.  But people are dynamic, ever changing creatures.  Even positive labels are often restrictive and difficult to shake.  Those who try new things or show a different side of themselves are often accused of "being fake".  But what is "fake"?  When someone acts in a way that YOU don't think is genuine?  With all due respect, you have no idea what's in someone else's heart. Our perception of other people is just that, a perception based on our personal bias and belief system.


I am often snarky and sarcastic but I am also introspective and curious, so when I post something of a more serious nature and am bombarded with comments like, "Whoa...a little too heavy, Lady" or "Someone's PMSing", yeah I get defensive.
When friends suddenly start working out, embarking on new creative endeavors or making other life changes are they trying too hard?  Are they being fake?  Or are they just trying to find their happiness? And what business is it of ours to speculate?

The above picture is powerful but incomplete.  If you want to be free to live your life without boundaries and labels then give the same freedom to those around you.  Don't be a source of judgements and skepticism.  Show support and compassion.  
Live with an open heart.