Why We Should Stop Obsessing About Labels
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Politics and Activism

Why We Should Stop Obsessing About Labels

Learning to escape my identity boxes.

Why We Should Stop Obsessing About Labels
Leah Kelley

Everyone nowadays seems to be obsessed with giving everything a label, including themselves. People proudly say what they are, or what they believe, or what they belong to, as if it sums up everything about them. I've been spending time thinking about this for the past several months and my realization has become more and more clear that these labels don't help that much.

In my adolescent psychology class, our professor had us write down everything that made us ourselves when we covered identity. He gave us a few minutes, and when I was looking down at that list, I realized that the fifteen or so things that I had written down did not even begin to sum up the person that is Caitlin Lorfink. Yet, so much of it is what I would first tell people what made me myself.

When we go through life meeting people, we like having a list of characteristics to show people that, yes, I am that. We like fitting ourselves, and more typically, other people, into nice little boxes with their nice little labels. And then we feel like, that no matter what, we're stuck in those boxes forever.

Most of the time, defining ourselves is good. Normally, when we have a lot of questions about who we are, we tend to be in turmoil internally, which is not good. Sometimes recognizing an aspect of our personality can help us realize that we need to change it, or we should start doing things that actually agree with our desires. But a lot of the time, these labels serve no purpose except to divide us from everybody we see as different.

Perhaps because my sister and I were always thrown together as a pair, since we had the five older brothers, we tended to try to find things that were different about each other. I was the brunette and she was the blonde. I like pink then blue, while she was always the purple girl. Our search for labels to divide us got so ridiculous that I refused to eat a lot of fruit because I was the one who ate vegetables and she was the one who ate fruit. Granted, that stopped by the time I was eight, but it's absurd that I wouldn't eat cantaloupe because that didn't fit my label.

So many of these labels are so arbitrary that we could just let go and actually enjoy ourselves with other people. In that psychology class, only one other student and myself included anything in our description about our personal appearance. Most of the class didn't even consider putting themselves in that box. Maybe if we can leave more of the boxes and just take people as themselves, no labels attached, we'll have less division in our lives and our world.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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