One thing I have always disliked in the world is labelling. I dislike that everything needs to have definition and name tags. I find this does lead to negative impacts on our wellbeing if we are suddenly grouped together by a general tag.
I am gay, I don’t even talk with that personal label very often, I just identify as myself. It is only one aspect of who I am, it is not a definition of me. The trouble is, if I use that label to describe myself then other people often see that label. To them I am gay and that is everything.
A former best friend of mine, who I had known since I was 6 (I am 37 now), put this into practice. As soon as I came out to her, I became a “gay friend” no longer suitable to be a “best friend.” She would pride herself on being inclusive as she had a gay friend. However, this individual was actually abusive and homophobic. She liked the idea of a gay friend as long as I did not associate with other gay people as friends or more. This label, damaged my wellbeing and indeed my life for many years. One simple three letter word was an anchor of despair for so long.
After I lost my Dad, I finally became friends with other gay people and embraced that aspect of my life. My former friend declared openly that she disapproved of my lifestyle at this point, and that having gay friends was toxic. I removed her from my life, not my new friends.
I share this story to highlight how labelling can cause serious damage to our wellbeing, as well as being a way to self acceptance.
One I witness a lot is good person and bad person. How is it possible to lump all aspects and events of life into one simple label? Yet people do. If you call someone or bad person, you could be doing so much damage.
I have learned not to try to seek validation from other people. I do not need to live up to your expectations or live the way you think I should. I am taking this journey on my own path.
I don’t take or accept criticism from people whose advice I would not listen to.
None of this was easy, but I feel so much strength from acknowledging my own worth, and cutting a toxic person out of my life.
I am very cautious about labeling people or myself. I find it so unhelpful, and often damaging. I just want to say this: just be you.
I am doing it my way.