Labels mean a lot. And they have always sat uncomfortably with me. Most of them anyway. I was reading The Fry Chronicles by Stephen Fry last night, and he devotes an entire chapter to his smoking habit and I deeply felt every loving description of it. I remember when I quit smoking how I disliked being a non-smoker. Smoking had become a part of my identity, a label I liked, and now I was leaving it behind. I was Heath Ledger in 10 Things I Hate About You, “So I’m a… non… smoker?”
Another label that is difficult is Army wife. My main struggle with it, is that it seems to preempt my own career identity. But I guess that would just lead to discussing another label, feminist. I like that one more, but it comes with serious historical baggage.
Speaking of historical baggage! Obviously, this post is leading to religious and non-religious labels. I have always chaffed at identifying as a Christian. Mostly because of how that label makes people see me. Now it’s because I am not sure it’s true, but initially, my discomfort with this and so many other labels was that it changed the way that people looked at me. It changed their expectation of me. And it changed the way they interacted with me.
Right now I like the labels, free-thinker, humanist, and I am interested in deist. Not sure if any of them are 100% accurate for me. But honestly, I am not a cell phone, nor am I car. You cannot personalize me with a specific label and think that you have defined me. And this is true for all people. We are all multi-colored, brightly, woven tapestries of experience and people and loves and hates and hidden things and thoughts.
I dislike labels, unless I can use them like sticky notes. Not permanent, not big, not all encompassing. But if you need an idea of who I am, here’s a few sticky notes: mother, sister, wife, sci-fi and fantasy loving, chocolate addicted, social worker that would rather watch British panel shows than do pretty much anything else. How’s that for a label?