Identity: To Label or Not To Label

It really only makes sense that my first post here has to do with identity.  It’s the first thing we want to know about a person.  Who are you?  What are you doing here?  Why am I taking the time to figure you out?  What’s in it for me?

I tend to spend a lot of time thinking about labels re: deciding if I need one and wondering if it is just a necessary evil of our day-to-day association game.  I want to dig a little deeper here;  Is identity a compilation of labels?  And if so, is identity really synonymous with individuality?  So often we feel the need to define ourselves or subscribe to a label so that we may in turn highlight our differences and similarities all at once- each and every person has their own recipe of labels that make up their “me-ness.”   It seems a little backwards that we are obligated to identify with a group in order to back up (and sometimes justify) our own uniqueness.   However, labels are easy ways for humans to make a snap judgement on whether or not to continue discovering one another.

There is no avoiding the efficiency of labels.  Most of us will choose a label depending on the context of a situation, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  Depending on where I meet you, I could be a teacher, a student, old, young, a redhead, a wellness enthusiast, a traveler, a yogi, a writer, loud, shy…the list goes on.  It’s an easy icebreaker, and we often tend to pick the label that we expect our new acquaintance to relate to because Lawd Save Us if the conversation dries up.  Again, fine and dandy, but I challenge you to ditch your go-to label.  I have this sneaky suspicion that despite all of our life-threatening differences, most humans are actually fundamentally the same.  The idea that we all share something in common intrigues me and figuring out what that common thread is- and acting on it- fuels most of my actions.  The only thing that I find more exciting than chasing my passion of the day is helping others figure out theirs, especially if it means we get to defy some social constructs on the way.

After doing a little soul searching I decided that even though I suggest ditching the labels, it is still important to define my identity in one way or another.  I would never lose sleep over fitting identity into perfect cookie cutter form, but there is a lot to be gained by figuring out what makes you tick.  In my own self-analysis, I consider myself to be odd compilation of age-old dichotomies;  I feed on spontaneity but I also take great time and effort to plan, analyze and critique my movements.  I am at once an avid thrill seeker and a calculated list maker.  I am extremely comfortable with ambiguity as long as I have some sort of reassurance as I navigate it.  My idea is that there isn’t really much thought or rhyme or reason as to why these opposite sides of the spectrum were placed on a linear scale anyway.  I like to think of these linear extremities as complimentary rather than contradictory.

My biggest passion in life is exactly that: passion itself.  To adapt a great saying in a new context,  A passion isn’t a thing that you have, it’s something you are.  I could make bottomless lists of the things I feel passionate doing, but what matters more than the items on the list is simply that I continue doing them.  My hobbies, interests, and surroundings are constantly evolving but as long as I look back on each and every day with a smile then I feel like I’m doing it right.  My Passion is being passionate.  Knowing this about myself empowers me to act on those impulses and follow them wherever they take me.  It frees me from any new labels that might contradict existing or future ones.  Choosing to listen to my passions has allowed me to pursue a lifestyle that is ultimately more in line with my identity than any label I’ve ever acquired.

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