Putting A Label On It

Jan 31st, 2010 12:55:00am

“I am a goth. I am an emo. I am a jock, a geek, a joker. I am the preppy cheerleader and the intellectual bookworm. I am every label in the book, therefore I am nothing. Did you know that a virus can imitate the shape of the cell it’s in, so the white blood cells don’t recognize it? In that respect, I am a virus.”

That is the slightly edited first paragraph of something I once wrote on an online writing website, for a contest which required you to describe yourself.

To many – or probably even all – of those reading this, it may seem that I am a victim of some sort of multiple personality disorder. I assure you I am not, though word over the Internet is hard to be proven truthful. I do not have multiple personalities, simply many facets of the same one, which I choose to display as the situation demands.
Sound strange?

Not to me, nor to anyone else who possesses the same… talent, for lack of a better term.
In truth, I believe we all have different aspects of ourselves hidden within ourselves somewhere. The only problem is the never-ending human need to place labels on every single thing, feature and characteristic. In some ways, this need has proven useful. It is because of this need that we know a bird is a bird, a whale is a mammal, as are we. But where should the line be drawn, and have we already crossed it?

It is labels, and the associating preconceived assumptions that come with them, that has curbed the human ability to simply be. We are limited by what we are told we can or cannot do, who we can and cannot become, because of how we predominantly act. It is this predominance that apparently affects who we are to people. It is this predominance that sets the standards for people’s expectations and judgements. And those are what suppress our ability to be anything we want to. It is why some dumb jocks will only ever be dumb jocks. It is why some criminals, despite whatever desire they once had to change, remain criminals. It is why cheerleaders, no matter how intelligent some of them may be, will always automatically be assumed to be dumb, ditsy, and overly-cheerful.

Who are we, as humans, to judge other humans based on what we think we see? What gives us the right? Who is to say that young girl stealing money is stealing it for drugs? What if she has a family who can’t provide for themselves? Who is to say that druggie you see stoned there isn’t doing it to “fit in” or “be cool”? What if it’s the only escape they feel they have from the hardships life has thrown at them?

And, more importantly, who is to say that is all they can ever be?

We give names. We assign qualities to those names. They stick, through the tides of time. And until people become open-minded enough to the fact that they can be more than what society expects of them, those names will always be attributed to certain characteristics, and that is all that will ever be seen.

People have changed. People have turned their lives around. People have proved society wrong, despite the hurdles they may have had to, and probably did, face. And this is not because they altered their personality. It is not because they became “new people”.
It is because they had it in them all along, and went searching for it.

We all have the ability to be whomsoever we choose, no matter how hard that choice may be. Do not let the labels of man define who you are.

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