We all hate labels, but no matter what we do we can’t get away from them. We say we hate them, but I know that I am constantly using labels for others and myself. They follow us like shadows and signs telling everyone things about us. Some labels are good: nerd, bookworm, friend. But others are much more complex than they appear: feminist, Christian, pretty.
It’s not that I’m unwilling to stand behind my beliefs it’s just that they are much more complex than one word can describe. To you a nerd is someone who likes to read, but to me a nerd is just someone who has passion for something or lots of somethings. Christian is very much a part of who I am, but does that mean Catholic, Baptist, Southern Baptist (’cause believe me, they are different), or Protestant? Because while all those are Christian they are all different, and let’s face it—a lot of Christians have a bad rap.
Everyone is labeled, and in this age of the Internet a lot of this labeling comes from strangers online. I’m not famous, but I still get strangers following me (I assume because they like what I tweet) and even this label is difficult. The moment I feel like using Twitter is a job, where I need to think through every tweet and grammatical mistake those 140 characters lend themselves to is the moment I no longer want that responsibility.
While this attack on labels can surely apply to men, I’ll stick to my view of it from a woman’s perspective. As women we get so many labels applied to us by people who never even speak to us. We are deemed interesting by what we’re wearing, what we’re reading, what phone we use, or what purse we carry.
In college labels helped us find people like us. People in the same major, who go to the same church, or who join the same clubs. But out of college I find that labeling is no longer helpful. When I’m trying to get to know someone the worst thing I can do is make an immediate assumption about them based on…well nothing.
The thing about labels is I can’t help but use them. I try not to. I consciously think, “don’t judge,” but occasionally I fail. My twitter bio says: “I’m a Sister/Aunt/Daughter/Friend/ Avid Reader and TV Watcher. Huge Nerd. And Sometimes Blogger.” These are the labels I’ve given myself, but I’ve left a lot off. This bio doesn’t really describe me; it’s just a snapshot. A minor look into my personality and who I am. So while I am trying to better myself by not judging people I don’t know, I hope you think about this the next time you see a stranger. Labels aren’t bad or evil they are just incomplete.