Woman. Sister. Mother. Friend. Accountant. Waitress. Gullible. Loving. Funny. Sassy. Religious. Sweet. Pathetic. Self-Righteous. Bi*$h. Flirt. (or the next word after that). Pitiable. Loser. Winner.
What labels do you wear everyday? What have you labeled someone else today?
Labels follow us consciously and unconsciously. Sometimes we don't even know something we don't want to be, until we have already found a way to overcome it. Sometimes we label someone before taking the moment to realize our bad behavior. Women seem to be the worst and meanest, at labeling each other.
I remember when I was a "teen mom". Oh my gosh, how I celebrated the day I turned 20! I so badly didn't want to be labeled that. Not because I wasn't one, but because I vividly remember not wanting people to pity me. (Now I watch that horrid show on MTV and get mad, wanting to take back the label to show that not every teen mom is like that!)
Trace and I were talking recently about how he wants people to see him. "Special Needs", "handicapped", "physically disabled"....it turned into the more important thing - how we "look at people" when we label them as something.
"Ok," I said to him, "How would you WANT people to look at you, when they notice your struggle physically?Do you want them to look away? Would you rather they look right at you?"
(In my head, I remember thinking, oh good, I want to know this- that this was something I felt I struggled with when I crossed other special needs individuals, not knowing which action to take)
Trace explained how he felt by saying that he didn't want people to stare at him. Seems simple enough.
So I asked if he just would rather people didn't look at him at all?
He said that it depended on who it was. His friends/family watched him with care to see if he needed a hand. Strangers stares made him feel bad. Now we were in dicey territory.
So he said, "There has to be a combination of people not making me feel like I am a freak. Maybe they can smile and say hi and then just not stare."
(ugh knife in the heart when your kid says words like that.)
BUT- that WAS a simple enough concept.
Being conscious of how we label others and how we label ourselves doesn't stop at the words of the label. It continues with our reactions to them.
So here was our plan of action. I am sharing today so that it can inspire others to be conscious oh how labels may rule your day.
See someone you would normally pity? Stop. Smile and say hi. Give an encouraging word.
See someone you don't want to stare at? Stop. Look up. Look them in the eyes, smile and say hi. Offer to open a door.
See someone you have labeled in the past as annoying, not worth your time, or a "b$%#h". Stop, smile, and say hi.
Maybe in shedding the labels you place on others, you can lift the ones weighing you down.
In the mean time, I am sharing mine and Trace's new favorite song. The words are uplifting, and make you want to "stompa" the label off your day and get moving.....