I was watching TV when a commercial came on that caught my attention. It wasn't the commercial per say, so much as what was said during the commercial. This is what got my attention that I wish to share with you today.
"It's not how others label you; it's how you label yourself. Lose the label." ~ Provo College
We have many roles in life and there are many label's placed upon us. Some of these are placed upon us by ourselves and some by others. In either case we are being put into a box. Think about it. What does a label do? It brings definition to something. As beautiful as I think language and words are, they are also restrictive and limited. Look at a mountain. There are any myriad of words we can use to describe it. We can say it is strong, massive, enchanting, breathtaking, unmovable, unconquerable, solid, majestic, etc., etc. And the list would go on and on in trying to capture in words what a mountain is. Yet all of them are limited in their ability to truly capture the essence of what it is, how it appears, what it does, and how it affects us. Even the word mountain itself is a definition that is restrictive in explaining it completely.
How many words do we use to label ourselves, good or bad, in our efforts to know ourselves better? How do we define ourselves in an attempt to move forward in life?
William Shakespeare said it best when he wrote Romeo and Juliet. "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. So Romeo would, were he not Romeo called, retain that dear perfection which he owes without that little title." Labels are little titles. They help us bring definition to things and experiences but they are limited in their ability to fully capture the essence of anything. However necessary definitions are, as we must communicate with one another, we allow them to become to concrete and immovable. This then begins to box us in and confine us to smaller spheres of understanding and comprehension.
If we are to truly understand and comprehend all things (even ourselves) in their completeness, we must break out of the box and move past the label. We've got to see the label as merely information and not take it as absolute. For instance, look at water. In liquid form it is called water, rain, mist, etc. But in solid form it is called ice, snow, hale, etc. And yet in gaseous form it is called steam and many other names. The list could go on and on. Water is constantly changing and flowing, moving from one state to another with little thought to what it is called or how it is defined. It just is. And whether or not you have a name or label for it, it goes on being and doing just the same. And so to must our thoughts be, especially of ourselves.
For us to be able to go beyond the simple definition of anything to revel in the depth of what anything is, we must see the definition as information that aids us. We must see language and labels as water; ever flowing and ever changing. For example take a label like water, see it simply as a means to begin recognizing and comprehending it, but allow yourself to see what else it may be. Definition is not concrete and yet we treat it that way, almost like a brand.
It is when we stop using labels as information to aid in understanding and start using them as brands to define that problems arise. If you are defined by a label, what happens when that label is removed or changed? I believe this is when we see people experience life crisis, depression, or any other number of negative feelings, especially towards themselves. When a label is gone and you defined yourself by it, especially when you used it for years, there appears to be an emptiness that some do not know how to cope with and can be left wondering "Who am I?"