How Labels Confine Us

“As we grow up, we narrow down what we like or do and define our personal identity. But doing that also puts an undue pressure of sticking to an image that we make up in our heads.”

As children, we don’t really have a well-defined personality or beliefs. We’re open to possibilities and our attitude changes every day. But as we mature, we get serious about understanding who we want to be as individuals.  

It goes on until we put labels on ourselves. Until we’re comfortable in our skin and feel like we’re becoming the person that we’d like to spend the rest of our lives like.

But we could be wrong

Becoming an adult doesn’t necessarily make us wise – so it’s likely that we falter when we evaluate ourselves, too.

Our emotions, surroundings, circumstances often manipulate us and confuse what we were during a certain phase and how we felt with our real identity. Hence, we wrongly make hardwired opinions that pose resistance when we try to change later on in life.

The cure?

Take labels less seriously

Take these phrases for example – it’s not hard to identify the labels in these.

  • I’m an introvert so I’m not great at starting conversations.
  • I’m a dog person, not really fond of cats.
  • I’m a Leo – it’s obvious that I have anger issues.
  • I’m a management graduate. I like keeping things orderly.
  • I only wear red and that’s who I am.

But those things could be wrong.

In the end, it’s us who keep repeating those sentences. We do it until we believe that’s who we are. We also limit who we can be or say no to what’s in store for us.

Leave life the way it is, untouched by your own assumptions about yourself or committing to becoming what you’re not.

I like how Stephen Fry talks about almost the same thing:

“Oscar Wilde said that if you know what you want to be, then you inevitably become it – that is your punishment, but if you never know, then you can be anything. There is a truth to that. We are not nouns, we are verbs. I am not a thing – an actor, a writer – I am a person who does things – I write, I act – and I never know what I am going to do next. I think you can be imprisoned if you think of yourself as a noun.” ― Stephen Fry

We change every day – we’re better off without labels.