Do they help or hinder?
The assignment of labels and how they shape us is a complex one with each stage of life deserving of its own discussion, so this is a condensed version of my thoughts.
We are assigned labels almost from birth and as children we start to become aware of these.
I can remember as a child being labelled as shy and a picky eater.
I was given the role of the sickly child who was ever so frail.
I was treated accordingly by the adults around me.
The result of this was that every time I felt ill I subconsciously slipped into the role of frail sickly child tucked up on the sofa with a blanket being fed soup.
My sister however, was given the label of the robust one, the one who always got up when she fell, nothing would hold her down for long. The result of this, she was rarely tucked up with said blanket, she would go to school ill and be hailed a trooper, whether she wanted to or not.
We grew to fit these labels and we also grew in resentment.
As teenagers we are taught to conform, not to stand out, to find our tribe, define our role and start sticking our own labels on.
Labelling ourselves and aligning ourselves to a certain group helps us understand ourselves and how we fit in in the complex world around us. They enable us to feel a sense of belonging as we navigate through the sticky waters of growth.
We become almost hyper aware of how labels work for or against us in society and they begin to shape our personalities.
She’s a rebel.
He’s the comedian.
They’re the popular kids.
They’re the nerds.
The list goes on.
Think about the label from your teenage years.
How did you mould yourself to fit into it?
Did it make you proud or did you rebel against how the people around you viewed you and tried to box you in?
How much of it do you still carry with you?
In society labels are dished out to help people define who they are, to fit in.
Identifying with ‘us’ or ‘them’ and creating a bond.
I’m Shy….me too!
A home body.
On and on and on….you get it yeah.
We are defined by our political views, left wing, right wing, fairy wings.
Even our job title shapes the way we are judged by others and ourselves and how we define ourselves and to who we belong.
Labels have a purpose.
They help define us, to give us a sense of belonging.
We weren’t meant to walk through life alone.
In historic times we formed tribes for a reason; protection, strength in numbers, comfort. We worked to our strengths and everyone had a role to play to help the function of the whole group. We felt safe and we felt needed.
However, the problems arise when we use these labels as an excuse.
We hide behind the comfort of our self-assigned roles refusing to step out of the comfort of the tribe for fear. Fear of losing that connection, fear of rejection, fear of being ostracised to name a few. Fear holds us in place and stifles our own unique growth.
We then run the risk of fitting ourselves into a box and ticking off the check list of who we are and why we behave the way we do in accordance to the overall label.
Labels are designed to give an overview, a brief glimpse into the shared ideals, beliefs and values of a group. They give an indication of personality traits shared by group members, a perfect example of this is how we are defined by our astrological signs, how me, a Virgo, displays traits that are common to all Virgos. I’m neat and tidy, I’m analytical, I like a plan and a list, I’m self-contained. This list goes on and ask any Virgo and we will share the same traits. BUT how many Virgos are there in the world? To define myself by my astrological sign alone limits me as a person and a soul.
Even our age bracket brings certain expectations of behaviour.
Being part of a tribe, connecting to others through similar ideals or behaviours gives us a sense of belonging and security. But be aware of the pitfall of losing yourself in the crowd.
Take the umbrella description as a glimpse into a tiny portion of personality and ideals and then spend time working on your own unique traits. Developing your own style that may or may not fit into multiple boxes.
Labels show us that we belong, that we’ve found our tribe and we play to our strengths but within the overall umbrella of that label we are individual people and we do not need to follow the rules.
We can live under the banner and enjoy the kinship whilst maintaining our own unique personality and views.
Born to fit in. Born to stand out. Or both?
What are your thoughts?
Do labels they help or hinder personal growth?
Leave a comment and let me know.
If you want to join my tribe and be respected for the individual that you are, hop on over to my Facebook group A Moment for Me. See you there <3
Originally published at www.kerrydavey.com