Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Labels are for fables

I got to thinking about labels.  And not the cute ones, like the C's on the Coach or Chanel bags.  But sometimes, we wear labels like that, on our emotional sleeves, without even knowing it.  In the fables, there are good guys, bad guys, damsels in distress, and one-dimensional characters.  We are much more than that.  So when we label ourselves, we limit ourselves.  Why do that?  We are always changing, growing, and learning.  Sometimes people in our lives don't like when we change, even though it's inevitable.  Everyone likes to keep us labeled in their minds.  It's how we understand the world.  And when we don't understand people, we still label them, maybe as crazy.    What if we let go of labels and limitations we place on others and ourselves?  As I watch my children grow and constantly change, it challenges me to let go of who I thought they were, from one year to the next.  They are finding themselves, as am I, as are we all.  It is a beautiful dance we do together and it's always evolving.   

Here's the story of me ending an argument with my teenage daughter, which is really funny on how she was labeling me.

"Nothing matters before this moment,"  I say, wanting to move on.

"Do you even here yourself?  You sound like a 1-800 number, for a psychic hotline.  Nothing matters before this moment," she said in a soft voice, poking fun at me. 

I bursted out laughing. 

"You're drinking the Kool-aid,"  she said.

"I'm not drinking anybodies Kool-aid."  I said.

"You're making the Kool-aid,"  she said.  I was still laughing and we had easily ended the argument.

No worries, I am not starting a cult.  I want my kids to be free to think what they want and find their truth for themselves.  Plus, teenagers are usually think there parents are weird, right?  She teases me, but I don't mind, because we joke with each other all the time.  I keep evolving how I parent and especially how I deal with conflict and problems.  Damn those Moms, for being like a real actual person, and changing sometimes.  LOL!  And I will keep changing until the day I die.  And as a parent, I can't label my kids as the smart one, or helpful one, or difficult one, even though it may seem like that.  When we label them, we limit who they can be.     

Do you ever find yourself saying this like:
I am not a great athlete so I am couldn't do...
I am not a good writer, so I can't...
I've never been patient so...
I'm not a nature person so...
I don't like to try new things so...
You may say these things in your head. but you see, everyday, you get a brand new chance to become a painter, because you have secretly always wanted to.  Take a music lesson or whatever you have a little whisper in you heart is saying.  Step out of your box and try something new. 

Think about all the fun and possibilities, we miss out on, when we limit who we are.  Luckily in this day and age, you can redefine yourself, as much as you want.  If you got divorced, even into the last century, you were therefore labeled in a negative way.  Look at how far we have come.  Being out as a gay person was unheard of in the past.  Now, there are new laws everyday that support civil rights for all.  The world is so connected now by technology, especially the internet, that people from all over globe are getting to see past the labels, of where we come from.  Labeling people by what country they live in seems so silly, since in the US, we are so diverse.  I love to meet people different cultures, backgrounds because it's fascinating to hear people's stories.  It expands my mind and I learn from every interaction.  If I label them, closing myself off to them, what could I be missing out on?  

Still, some may label or categorize us, even in our families.  That's OK.  We never have to take on someone's label of us.  We are free to be.  On a funny note, labels can come in handy, like on spice jars.  I was making popcorn for my kids and grabbed cinnamon, instead of smoked paprika, when I had already added garlic powder and turmeric.  I asked my older two to guess the secret ingredient and they guessed right, but they ate it anyway.  It actually tasted good.  Who knew?

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