How Labeling People Helps us Feel Safe, but Then Silently Destroys Us

Labels help us feel safe and make sense of our world, but is that really healthy?

People like to label. A lot. They may tell you they don’t, but it’s not true. Labeling helps people make sense of their world. Helps them see if they can trust you and what to do with you. Where to put you and how to judge you accordingly.

Hippe.

Christian.

Atheist.

Yogi.

Biggot.

Democrat.

Realist.

Slut.

Good Girl.

Bad Boy.

You must have a label. Being a mutt of groups and belief systems confuses people and sometimes even threatens them. I am a mix of many things. I love yoga, I do believe in God, but there are aspects of Christianity I reject and struggle with. Like denominations. I think they create division. I don’t subscribe to the notion that one is right while the others are wrong. I think there is real power in positive thinking. There’s scientific proof to back this up.

At church, I have a lot of questions. I’m “annoying” with all my questions. At least I get the feeling that’s the case from my teachers. My mother is a conservative Baptist. I grew up in a Baptist church. I remember being as young as eight years old and asking my Sunday school teacher deep questions like: “When did God start?” “How can we actually know for sure people go to heaven or hell?” “Why am I here, really?” I’ve had an insatiable appetite for truth and knowledge since I was little.

The answers often left me frustrated. I started ostracizing myself from the beginning, refusing to believe things without questioning them.

They didn’t like that.

Even with things like yoga and meditation I have my doubts. Where’s the proof that stuff actually works? I know yoga works though, I always feel a difference. There’s medical research to prove it helps a person in many ways. The mediation stuff, I’m still figuring out.

I dress nice. Not because I want to fit into any sort of catergory, but just cuz I like how it makes me feel. I look in the mirror and I like the way that dress looks on me. I like my hair like that. I like feeling pretty. There are times, however, I take a break from wearing makeup etc. We have a very beauty-centered society here in America. In Europe, many women don’t even shave their legs or wear much makeup, and they are reguarded as beautiful. There’s a balance, I suppose.

People want to label you. They want to know where to put you and want to do with you. It makes them feel safe despite it dividing us.

I have a very active mind. I like the inspiration a sermon at my local church brings me. I want to be a good person. I like to go downtown and party sometimes. Drink. Dance. Let loose. But that doesn’t make me a “party girl”. Does it? I like sex. Does that make me a slut? Or does it make me a woman with natural desires? I like yoga and eating organic food. Does that make me a hippie? I work in a coffee shop. Hipster? It shouldn’t matter, but people like to label. I don’t like abortion. So call me Pro-Life and a Republican? You can’t fully do that either because I don’t believe in every single thing the Republican party supports.

What to do with me? I’m all over the place. How to label me. What a problem. What if it’s not though? Who says I have to be all one thing. Does having bits and pieces from both sides of a coin make me a hypocrite? Some would say, definitely yes. I disagree. I’m not straddling some fence. I’m just open-minded. I see truths in different areas. Neitzche once said “There’s a kernel of truth in all religions.” Who can be all right on all things? That’s quite the claim.

I wonder sometimes, if my refusal to put myself in any certain category is due to my own sceptisim over every group. There’s nothing thus far, in my 31 years of living, that has enticed me to go all in.

Maybe it’s not such a bad thing to be in a mix of many groups. Perhaps it’s a sign of intelligence and open-mindedness? I don’t have all the answers. I just know what feels right and what doesn’t and form my beliefs from there. I try and use a mix of gut and logic, heart and mind, when deciding what I believe in and where and with whom to associate myself.

If you really wanna label me, if you just have to, I guess you can call me a : Free-spirited Christian Realist Yogi. That’s a mouthful eh?!

There are times I wish I COULD just land on one thing. It might make things easier for myself and others. But the right thing isn’t always the easy thing. I want to get it right. This thing called life. And myself, I want to be the purest best version of myself. Happy and whole.

What if I pick a label, get to the end of my life, and realize I had it all wrong? That is my fear and what probably keeps me from fully committed to one thing.

There are two types of reactions I seem to draw from people being as I am: confusion or intrigue/appreciation. I can’t help what people think and I am starting to care less and less. I love myself. I love my open mind and my curiosity. I don’t see it changing anytime soon. I want to learn and grow all the way until death. I’m not perfect. I sometimes judge where I should love. I am incurably human. We all are.

So the next time you catch yourself labeling, tell yourself, we’re all not so different. We all want to be liked, accepted, understood, and loved for who we are, flaws and all.

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freelance writer l English lit major l blogger l poet I student of life Email: whitvmo@gmail.com