We have all been affected by labels. Whether it’s someone telling us who they think we are, or who we should be, there has always been a time when a label has been attached to us. A label can result from an attitude, a perceived lifestyle or even our parents. While labels are seemingly harmless, they actually take from someone’s personality and boxes them into the perceived reality of the person or persons who have labelled them. For example, a woman who loves to wear makeup and always have her hair and outfits beautifully put together may be labelled a “Slay Queen” when the truth is, she just enjoys looking good. The label of “slay queen” does not connote who she is but because she dresses up and looks put together always, people that have no idea who she is will just decide that she has nothing more to offer than what she presents. This is not so because that same woman can be an astrophysicist or a social activist. For some, labels are very limiting because they start to affect how the labelled person sees themselves and the world. Label a child especially in their formative years and you can almost watch them grow into it.
What is a label?
A label is a word or phrase that is used to describe someone or classify them into a certain group or category. Like stereotypes, labels are often wrong and can restrict a person or group of people.
Labels are often steeped in judgement or inaccurate perceptions of people. When we meet a certain person that does not fit into our view of the world, or that we fear, we have a tendency as humans to instead of reacting with curiosity we react with criticism and judgement. We fear what we do not understand. So we decide what to define people as and almost always it is not who they are. Instead of doing the work trying to understand people, their motivations, backgrounds and their lifestyles, we choose the easier way out and just slap on a label and keep it moving.
Conversely, we have experienced labels. Someone who didn’t know us or clearly did not understand us has slapped a label on us and unless we fight for freedom we can remain restricted and limited by those labels.
How to Overcome Limiting Labels
If you have been labelled, I have good news for you. You can shake those labels and become the person that you are called to be. Labels might restrict you, but you can take your first steps to freedom, starting now.
- Know Yourself: The first step to freedom from labels is recognizing who you are. Self-awareness is something that many do not have or do not know how to attain. Knowing yourself helps you define who you are and who you want to become. Sometimes in learning who you are, you might find some attributes to make positive changes to. That is perfectly okay, as long as you are not changing to suit anyone else’s narratives. Know yourself and you can shake any labels.
- Live Unapologetically: The next step to take after learning, defining yourself is to be proud of the person you are and the person you are becoming. Those past labels will not stand because you will be living in your present and subsequently future self. Also, you will be unaffected by what people are saying about you. The only person whose opinions should have power over you is God. God is the ultimate one who defines you. You are called to his purpose. Live the life that God has given you and make no apologies for who you are.
- Build Self-Confidence: Think of self-confidence as keeping your head above the negative things. It does not mean that you are haughty, or aloof, but you are untouched by the things that people say about you. Building your self-confidence is integral to shedding labels.
We all need to learn and grow and stop labelling people. At the same time, we need to shed labels. Labels will keep you living in the shame, or perceptions of your past self, and you have grown past them, so learn who you are, build up yourself, live free and unapologetic and watch the magic happen.
I’m rooting for you.