Tuesday, 4 December 2012

More Than a Label

On Saturday it was my daughter's wedding.  What a wonderful occasion it was!!  It was so lovely to have all the family together for such a joyous event!  Equally nice was meeting the other side of the family and soon everyone was talking,swapping stories and getting to know one another.  While making new acquaintances I was struck by one thing in particular.  It was a question I heard repeatedly:  "What do you do?"  The answers varied greatly from "I am a housewife" to " I am a teacher" to "I am a financial adviser" and everything else in between.  A single label, and never once was the answer queried, or the person asked to elaborate.
This made me realise how easily we attach and accept labels.  Since a young age this brought out the rebel in me, as at the very least I am a mixed fruit jam, a muesli cereal, a rainbow coloured writing pad, an omnibus, a buffet.  No single label for me and certainly not for the next person either.  I hated labels and I absolutely still do.  Yet, that is exactly what we as people do.  We conveniently label people, pack them into little compartments and let them just dare to break free from that perfect little niche we have placed them in.  Conveniently we sort the "bad " ones with the baddies and the "good" ones with the goodies, the adulterers with the vow breakers, the divorcees with the failures, and the gays with the arty's. We feel comfortable knowing where who fits in.  That way it is easy to avoid those that don't fit in with what we view as the norm.
This system we have of labelling makes me want to scream.  The label " Teacher " after all, is only the title of the work Anne is doing, it tells me nothing about her passion for scuba diving.  John, an accountant, is much more than a number cruncher, he spends his week-ends painting beautiful murals for the children's ward at the state hospital and Betty, the housewife, is an interior decorator, chef and psychologist to three teenagers.
Then of course there are the other labels.  Those that are whispered about behind hands and glassy smiles - oh, Marc is that banker that embezzled all that money... did u know Susan got fired.... Dan has an eye for the ladies....poor Bob and Mary, their daughter is pregnant, she'll never amount to much now.....hmmm, Lydia had an affair..... the woman in the green dress is Professor Smith's wife........on and on the labelling goes.  Yet, Marc is much more than his "sin", Susan much more than a woman who lost her job, the woman in the green dress so much more than her husband's profession, but sadly, few people are  interested or really care to look beyond the label.  No-one bothers to read the fine print and few people take notice of the ingredients.  We are often so easily fooled by the glamorous images, the colourful graphics on the outside that we don't care to look beyond the labels.
It is also not just other people who label us, no, we are quite eager to label ourselves.  We are often our worst critics and attach the unfairest labels to ourselves.  "Failure", "Stupid", "Inadequate", "Ugly", "Loser" to name but a few, and so we live up (or should I say down) to these expectations we have labelled ourselves with. 
I remember walking into a farm stall last year during our annual vacation.  On the shelf there was a variety of homemade jams and condiments.  I noticed one bottle in particular.  It had a label that read "Tastes Like Nothing You've Tasted Before".  What a perfect label.  We should all rip off our labels and replace it with one like that, because each one of us is unique, there is no-one else like us, has never been, nor will there be again......

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1 comment:

  1. O, Charri, this is so true! From the minute we are born labels are being hung about our necks and that is so sad because it immediately starts to limit our potential. I have twins and I still remember my son coming to me in tears at age 5 crying because he could not do ballet like his sister. He did not want to play baseball like his cousins. Against many protests from the family I enrolled him in ballet classes. Today he is a choreograher and has his own dance studio, he is happily married and the father of twin girls!
    Thanks for your posts,