Categorize yourself in one word.
Chances are, you just had a hard time coming up with one word that could summarize the entirety of you. It’s difficult to describe the complexities of a person in a single word, and in much the same way, one single word can have many different associations. Labels, then, can tend to be a little vague.
Labels are, in essence, little descriptions of objects made to categorize and create an order. In the mess of diversity and chaos in our world, we seek to create this order within humanity. To do this, we must label ourselves.
But what do we really gain by doing this? Centuries of oppression for being labeled “black.” No equality under God for “gay.” Far too many make-me-a-sandwich jokes for “woman.” Certain labels like these require a kind of strength and confidence in order to wear. These are labels you cannot change and must come to terms with in the end.
With other labels, you get a lot more input. People choose how they wish to be identified, whether it is by the clothes they wear or the activities they’re involved in. My new “geek” shirt, for example, is certainly a testament to my academic accomplishments, but does “geek” really encompass all of Lee Paige? Does it mention my affinity for animals, my taste in music, or how I like to watch old reruns of Whose Line Is It Anyway? Is one simple word really enough? I honestly don’t think so, but if it really is human nature to stamp a label on things, at least choose your stamp.
Choose a label that you feel depicts you best. Perhaps I’ll be a “geek” today and a “writer” tomorrow. No matter what I choose, however, I can take comfort in knowing the sign I’ll be wearing is an extension of me, whether it’s all of me or not. Knowing who you are (“black,” “gay,” “woman,” “geek”) and feeling comfortable enough to display it to the world…that’s “courageous.”
What do you think of labels? What do you want to be defined as?