At what point in evolution did people decide, “hmm… I need to know what box of people you belong in, so I’m going to have to label you, I hope you don’t mind. Let’s see… You are tall, so you must be an athlete, and you’re a female athlete, so you might be gay, and if you’re gay, you’re probably not a catholic. Okay, I think I have you figured out.”
Every shred of that visual assumption could be completely wrong, and this is how labels are limiting and so tragically flawed.
It’s not just people that we feel this unshakable need to label. We also can’t contain the need to “appropriately” label situations, circumstances, choices, and the list goes on. For whatever reason, we need to know where to put things in our filing system of life.
Hundreds of years ago (there I go again), when everything was just starting up, labels did not exist. We as humans created them. Situations just were and people just did what they did. Then people watched and observed and considered… “Hmm, I don’t think I approve of that, so that choice was wrong and that person is immoral.” And so began labels. I imagine, I mean… I don’t know I wasn’t there, but you get what I am saying.
The problem with labels is this: they are concrete, black and white. Labels leave no room for an open mind, for variation and acceptance. People, on the other hand, are not concrete nor black and white. People are complex, beautiful, unique, fluid beings.
What inspired this post specifically, is my personal experience with a label discrepancy. You see, I am in and have been in relationships with the ladies. I am attracted to the ladies. In the past, I have been in relationships with the boys too. Now, if you want to label that, you can call me bisexual. But I never felt comfortable throwing that term around. It wasn’t boys that I liked or girls that I liked, it was specific people, and it had nothing to do with boy or girl. Currently, although it’s been many years since I have been with the boys, I still don’t totally get down or jive with the word lesbian.
Now let me expand. I will tell you, it’s not because I am uncomfortable saying “hey I am a girl who likes girls”, it’s because the word itself feels like it goes beyond that. Labels are limiting because labels often come with what I will call additional assumed defining traits, that extend beyond the base label. Both the terms bisexual and lesbian come with more than just a description of who a person is attracted to.
Let’s take the label of lesbian and see what else some people might associate with it. There is a tendency to associate feminism and man-hating with someone who might identify as a lesbian. There is a tendency to assume that anyone who is gay, is flamboyant, and maybe even promiscuous. I mean not to judge or criticize anyone who does associate with any of these descriptions. Always do and be you, as long as you love yourself! But the shoe just doesn’t feel right on my foot.
Now, if we take the word lesbian and associate it only with being drawn to, and interested in dating the ladies, sure I will take that. Happy to. But it has come to be so defining, limiting, and assuming, like many other labels.
Beyond people, we also label situations and choices. A dear friend might choose to not go to college, and people may label that as a poor choice or a bad choice. But the truth is, college isn’t for everyone and also, that is not your choice to make. Live and let live and be open to the fact that no one knows what it right or wrong or best for every other person. We are all on our own journey, whatever that may entail.
At the end of the day, be aware of how labels can be limiting your experiences and relationships. Don’t choose not to embrace who you truly are, for a fear of being labeled. And don’t choose not to associate with a person, because of labels you or someone else may have placed upon them. When we label, we limit, and when we limit, we miss out. Be open. Be kind. Be gracious.
Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to remove all labels from your life and absorb situations and circumstances with an open mind and heart. See how your vibrations change.
Namaste, my lovelies.