This is not easy.
“This” being the title of this article—living without labels.
Living without labels is not an easy thing to do, especially in today’s culture where many, many more conditions, diseases, tendencies, etc., are labeled than ever before, and where all these labels and information about them is available twenty-four-seven to a large number of people.
It’s easy to get sucked into this label craze. You feel just a bit different, you don’t feel that you fit in anywhere and you want to fit somewhere. So you search for a label. Or you learn about a label and think, That applies to me. And you want that label.
I dealt with this recently. I had a thought one day several months ago, and started researching and researching and researching. And I set on finding out if this label could be applied to me; if I could fit in this group. I wanted to fit in it so badly. I wasn’t one hundred percent sure I would fit; in bad moments I wasn’t sure at all. But in good moments I was ninety-five percent sure.
I wanted to identify with something, to be a part of something physical, real, and tangible. (As if identifying with the kingdom of God isn’t enough. But the kingdom of God is generally speaking intangible, at least for now, so it can be hard to identify wholly with it. But of course I should try.)
I had all this research done; notes, quotes from people, characteristics, you name it. I brought them all to my therapist, trying the whole time I drove to her office to keep my hopes down, expect the worst, expect the worst. All I wanted was an opinion, not an affirmation. (Although deep down I would have loved an affirmation.)
My therapist gave me her thoughts, which lined up with others’ thoughts, which also lined up with my own honest thoughts. I didn’t fit the label. It wasn’t the answer I thought I had been wanting. But strangely, as I walked out of her office, I felt light. I felt okay. I felt free.
It was very strange; that something that had seemed so important, and would give me such identity and security, had been weighing me down, and that not fitting in that box actually freed me.
But why? I still can’t entirely wrap my mind around it. It is still hard for me to think of individuals as simply themselves. I want to categorize everything (I love categorizing things). This goes here, that goes there. She’s this, I’m that. I want to know where everything fits.
But people are unique individuals. They cannot be put into boxes.
This frustrates me until I remember the freedom I felt walking away from that label. What I had to do was learn to accept myself as I was—as who I am. I am unique. I don’t need a label to make me unique, or to pin down all my traits and idiosyncrasies. I am me. I am this way, and this way, and that way, and a little bit that way too. I am contradictory. My personality is all my own. I firmly believe that no two people in the world have the exact same personality.
I do not need a label to be unique.
I’m also trying to become more aware of the kingdom of God; pray to God more, rest in the present with Him, and dwell on and remember His word. He has created each of us after all, and if we really are all different (as I hope to believe) then I’d guess it might be because God finds copies pretty boring. He creates us each unique because He likes differences. He likes unique people. It makes sense.
So we are all unique, even in the kingdom. We don’t lose our unique personalities as Christians; we only gain new identities, which help us discover our true selves, in Christ.
Which is to say, in freedom.