Have you ever heard people talking about how they never judge others? How they would never dare hold on to first impressions no matter how bad those impressions were? How they keep an “open mind” for everyone they ever meet? Well, I have. In fact, a lot of times I would hear them say these things as I walked past them, and you can bet that in their next breaths they started whispering about the girl who had no friends.

But no, I don’t judge others. I'm very accepting.”

No, you probably don’t love and accept everyone, and honestly that’s a shame, but it is what makes us human. I see people walking around with bracelets that say “No one can define me.” I’m sorry, but that’s just not true. Everyone who crosses your path in life is going to define you, but it is your choice whether to live up to those labels or not.

All my life, I have been labeled, but the words that have labeled me in the past weren’t always a bad thing. Sometimes, people called me “weird” or “gross” and other times I was called “studious” or even “persistent”. Different kinds of people said these things about me, and that is because they all interpreted who I was differently. When I was younger, I used to care about what people labeled me as because I thought it was important. It wasn’t. I quickly learned that there is power to labels, whether they have a negative connotation or not.

I’m here to tell you that in some people’s stories you will live in a box on the shelf and in other stories you will be on a stage with a microphone in your hand. I’m here to tell you that you can never please everyone you ever meet. Some people are meant to clash and fight through blood and tears. Others are meant to admire each other from a distance but never utter a word to each other. Some feel connected to a stranger without even knowing a name. That’s the beauty of life. We all write our own dictionaries without even knowing it.

Don’t ever feel like you have to live up to anyone’s standards. No one else is going to take the pen out of your hands and write the story they want for you. Maybe you can’t help what other people think of you, but you can help yourself become the person that you want to be seen as. I feel like everyone always says that we should love and accept everyone, but they never practice what they preach because if everyone did this, there would not be an ounce of hatred on this planet, but there is. Understand that people are going to place you in boxes and put you in categories because it makes it easier for them to process the world around them. Call it bigoted or hateful or intolerant or whatever you please, but everyone does it unless they are Saints.

In some people’s stories, I am a know-it-all b*tch when in my world, I have the lowest self-esteem out of anyone I know, and it has taken me years to give myself any credit for all the hard work I do. In other people’s stories, I am a 4.0 gpa, 36 on the ACT, star student and teacher’s pet when in my world, I have always struggled in school, and there have been many teachers who didn’t like me. To some people, I know my way around in the bedroom when in my world, I only tell dirty jokes to my friends to make them laugh. Nothing more. We are always defined by people for what they think they know about us, but I think if I ever had to define myself, it would be that I am enough. I have always been labeled as not enough my whole life, but that does not mean that I can’t be enough for me.

I am defined by compliments and insults. I am defined on my worst days and my best days. I am defined by the clothes that I wear and the pickup truck that I drive in a fancy neighborhood. I am defined by my skin color and my German culture. I am defined by my resume. I am defined when I wear a White Sox t-shirt on the west side of Chicago. I am defined when I speak out about my political beliefs. People have not only put me in boxes, but they have trapped me in and used duct tape and super glue to make sure that I never redeem myself from their words. I guess I could try to overcome certain labels, but I also feel that for some people it would never matter what I did to redeem myself. People will always call me what they see fit.

To all who have ever defined me in life, good or bad, I thank you for even bothering to think of me in the first place.

Yes, I am defined, and so are you.