Labels. We all wear them. The things people have spoken about us or to us have stuck to us and changed the way we live. For some it is trying to outlive the labels, and others try to live up to them. Everyone of us has experienced the labels our world puts on people.
As humans we love to categorize people, and have them fit neatly into a slot that makes sense in our minds. The standard we use for people is usually ourselves. When people behave the way we want they are great people, and when they don’t we usually get upset. If people behave differently enough from us we categorize them as different and set them aside. We have labels for just about everyone we meet, and we relate to people based on the labels they have.
Growing up there were jocks and geeks, preps and Goths, punks, metal heads and grunge. But there are more than the social labels we wear. There are a lot of things spoken to us over the years that have labeled us as well. Useless, bum, jerk, loser, worthless, good for nothing, dumbass, and many others. The struggle to be yourself is especially hard for young people still discovering who they really are as they grow into adulthood. And the labels can be extremely hard to live with as evidenced by our teen suicide rates.
We are more than a label. And we don’t have to be the labels that others have placed on us. Even our parents placed labels on us as we grew up and were told to be something. Part of the journey of self discovery is learning to discern yourself from the labels. Under all the labels our world has placed on us is the real you and I. An extremely valuable person to find. One that Jesus thought was worth leaving heaven and dying for.
All of those labels have created ways of relating and interacting with our world, and many of them are learned behaviors and are not the real us. The journey is to help us decide which ones are not us and which ones are. As we discover ourselves under the labels we can then begin to express ourselves for who we really are. It isn’t going to be an easy path to take because some of the labels we wear have a depth of pain attached to them that will take some working through. But the rewards for doing so are incredible. Don’t let the worry of what you may discover keep you from searching. There is a great wealth inside each one of us if we are willing to look for and discover who we really are.