Labels

My friend and I were discussing this topic on the train the other day: why are we all so obsessed with labels? Why do we feel the need to constantly have to define ourselves and others and fit into neat little boxes? Whether it’s consciously or subconsciously we all do it, I guess it’s an insecurity that we collectively possess as a society. Especially us millenials, we live for labels. I mean come on, we’re addicted to taking online quizzes that’ll tell us just how sensitive we are on a scale of one to ten, or whether we’re a ‘typical’ Scorpio/Taurus/Gemini… define me Buzzfeed, DEFINE ME!

I guess that conforming to labels makes us feel safe in a way, like we belong somewhere amid a population of 7 billion different characters and personas. And I suppose by labelling other people, it makes them seem less threatening.

I’m not talking race, religion or sexual orientation (that’s another post for another day) I mean personality-based labels like: chatterbox, geek, player, tomboy, loner, air-head etc etc. We thrive off of these labels and we obsess over them to the point where while they may have once reflected a tiny aspect of our characters, they slowly begin to define us and we struggle to break free from their confines; they become suffocating!

Labels can be fun when we play with them in a light-hearted manner, but not so much when we start taking them too seriously. For example, you may have grown up being told by anyone and everyone around you that you’re quiet and shy. And of course that affected you, even if you didn’t realise it. You muted yourself in social situations because you thought, I need to live up to my label. And maybe a random online quiz happened to affirm this by branding you ‘the ultimate introvert’, but does that then mean that you’re doomed to always be the silent one in a group of people? That you should just accept that that’s your role to play? No, not if you don’t want it to.

If you feel that your label is wrong, or that you’ve outgrown it, get out there and dispel it. Show it who’s really in control, YOU. And don’t take all of these crazy quizzes so seriously, another one will tell you that your one true soul-mate is Donald Trump, bet you’re not as quick to accept that!

At the end of the day, all labels need to be taken with a pinch of salt. They’re useful because they allow us to identify/understand ourselves a little better and perhaps even accept one another more, but they’re dangerous because they’re static and they have the power to stick. And as human beings we’re constantly evolving, so of course they don’t complement us very well. We all need to progress and grow in order to survive in this big bad world, don’t allow a label to stop you from doing that.

30 replies

  1. I have a very strong intuition about people, and would neatly pack them into 3 boxes in my head, #1 love/like (can’t live without), #2 stay away, ALERT ALERT! #3 rest of the world.
    Often the entire concept of judging bogged me down and I decided to let everyone out of the box and run wild in my head, what it did was create a lot of confusion.
    Though labeling people for their personalities is slightly tricky, I’m more with the 3 broad shelters go with your gut feeling type 🙂

    • I certainly agree with you. I see someone and fit them into a)relate with b)have nothing to do with c)rest of the world/randoms. It kinda makes life easier for me. I’m not saying I judge people or label them, its just me going with my gut.

  2. I agree, but I also think some labels can be a good thing. For instance, being able to label yourself a Type A or Type B personality can help one better understand what works for them and the way that person operates/learns/works etc.

  3. Great post! It’s amazing what power the mind has in creating our experiences. You simply think a thought, believe the thought, and magically an experience is created. I wonder who we would be if we didn’t identify ourselves with any label at all? 😊

  4. I agree. Though in my case, I use labels as my starting point. I don’t let it box me. Labels allow me to understand myself a little better. It helps me define my strengths and weaknesses, and improve them. 🙂

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