March 21, 2013

I Don't Like Labels Anymore

While we’re at it with naming stuff, I think I’ve decided I don’t like labelling myself anymore. I’m not sure I was ever super comfortable with it, but it’s becoming increasingly frustrating.

I’m not intending to come at this from a hipster, alternative, underground, ‘man, what are labels but shackles, man?’ angle, though that might well be what actually bothers me. I could call myself a ‘sceptic’, for example. But I think I’d prefer to say, ‘I like to be sceptical’ or ‘I believe in thinking sceptically about {x,y,z}’. The latter describes the way you do things and can be used in more specific circumstances; it’s less constrictive upon me as a person. The former phrasing invites a boxing in of my identity and character, allowing people to impress assumptions and expectations upon me. ‘You’re a sceptic, so you must be A and B and do C, D and E,’ people could say. Whether these people are wrong or right about the conclusions from my label is moot. The point is that is I say I’m a {whatever} I immediately force people’s brains to create an image of me and fit further observations of me to that image.

Furthermore, I’m not sure I feel complete enough as a person to identify as anything in particular. I’m forever learning and growing and changing and discovering. I’m not a sceptic because there are lots of circumstances in which I let my feelings lead my and surrender my disbelief and inquisition to them. Sometimes, this is a good thing: if I’m watching a blockbuster film, it’s a serene experience not to question why the hell everything is blowing up or how that ninja dodged a bullet. I’m not always a feminist because I still get easily trapped by biases, right there in my sneaky subconscious. I’ll always try to be feminist, but that’s a different story.

See, I’m an adjective man, me. I’d like to describe myself and my actions than give myself an identity.

Thinking about this further, this may actually be a product of low self-esteem than most of what I said above. Hold that thought.

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