- Erich Hofmeister
Why Your Life Feels Like a Soup Can (Time to Tear Off the Label)
Let’s play a game. Ready?? This will be fun!! Ok, here we go.
What’s your label?
Some of you know exactly what I mean. Some reading this, though, do not. But you will.
Ok, right now. Think about one thing that you have been told that you are.
What about a condition you’ve been told you have? Think about what that is.
What about a “type” of person that you are?
Or maybe to counteract the way that description, placed upon you by another, made you feel, you came up with another name for yourself to make yourself feel better, or more worthy… more acceptable... more lovable.
Maybe you take endless questionnaires/tests/surveys online to help you discover a “better” label for yourself – a more comfortable box.
Do you relate to this?
The fact is, nearly all of us have been told by people we love, people we don’t love, people we know intimately, people we barely know (and barely know us), people in authority (many with letters behind their names), people on TV, people in books, people on podcasts, and others, that we are a particular thing.
We are given a label. A quick, clean, easy, and ultimately, simplistic way of putting us into a manageable category. Yes, a box would work here, or a bin to file us into.
But, labels are for soup cans, not humans. Have you heard that before? It’s true, and we know it. But do we live like it?
It’s natural for humans to categorize or label. It’s even helpful for many things in our environment. But for our growth, progress, and ultimate identity, it can be deadly.
Yes, it is that big a deal.
Whether you have owned a label of being “learning disabled” or “gifted”, “fat” or “skinny”, “troubled” or “well-behaved”, “introverted” or “extroverted”, “normal” or “disordered”.
You adopted a set of expectations and limitations depending on that label.
Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman is helpful here pointing out that “When we split people up into such dichotomous categories, the large variation within each category is minimized whereas differences between these categories are exaggerated.”
This leaves no room for individuality. No room for nuance. No room for our true and unique human stories.
But it leaves plenty of room for us to create self-fulfilling prophecies from what someone said about us, or from something we read, that neatly and tragically puts us into a stifling, oppressive box.
Not to mention, providing a lot of room for erroneous judgments about others.
So, again I ask: What is the label you’ve worn? How does this make you feel? And how does it limit you, suffocate you, or discourage you?
The fact is, you are not a label. You are something far more complex and glorious than that.
Your story has innumerable factors, variables, traits, and experiences.
Tear off the label. And be the uniquely and wonderfully-made individual you are, that possesses a far-reaching value beyond what any label could ever portray.