Sunday, May 6, 2007

Labels

Have you noticed how when you ask someone about another person the first thing they do is launch into a description of the person's physical self. Since the first time we recognize ourself in the mirror we base our identity on our outer appearance.

Throughout our life we label ourselves, 'I'm an introvert', 'I am a reflective person' or 'I am funny', 'I'm this...I'm that'. We use these to describe ourself when we meet people for the first time. If its not a physical description then its what we do, our marital status, our hobbies.

But is that who we are?

We hide behind all these labels, as they prevent us from really looking inside and examining what lies beneath. We feel comfortable with the descriptions, a safety cushion that provides us with convenient scapegoats.

They become our justification for not changing or even making an effort to change.

But what happens when someone we love and care deeply about perceives us as different from the way we have marked ourselves in our head, we feel shaken and confused, and when someone whose opinion and their intelligence we respect we actually start doubting ourself.

Growing up, the picture we have of our self is governed by what we hear our loved ones describe us as and unconsciously we start to model ourself on those labels. So starts an anthology of personal mythologies. These are the voices we hear and we create our persona around them and use it to describe and classify all our actions.

To be totally honest about oneself is the most difficult thing that anyone can do and even if they do it - its one thing to know exactly who you are and another thing to let others see the real you.

6 comments:

Peter Haslam said...

People need classifications which are set by the society you are in and your background. Social contacts and who you are they are different things

Random Magus said...

But sometimes we fence ourselves in by the definition we give ourself.
I am so and so.. I want people to perceive myself and so and so... so I must behave this way
And its very difficult to get out of this box we put ourselves in -

Wonder said...

This was a very interesting post, Random. I've felt these things all my life, because people usually see me as something I'm not (or am I? XD). Most people that have known me for a long time tell me I look a bit cold and distant, but when you get to know me, they discover I'm not that way at all.
The other day I was talking to a guy I've just met a month ago at work and he said I've got an "evil face" (in a good way; he also mentioned a "delicious evil smile", lol), because of the way I move my eyebrows while looking at him. I think it depends a lot on who you're talking to and the relationship you've got with that person. My husband sees me in a completely different way, of course.
But anyway, in the end, I think it's really hard to let people know the real you because of everyone's point of view. I think that's only reserved for a few people.
Nice topic,
W.

Random Magus said...

Thats so true - throughout my life I have felt fenced because of the way I appear to people,, 'cutesy' or 'silly' and sometimes I think I behave true to those statements - and it so difficult for me to keep telling myself I am not that or I am more than the impression I give.
Thats why I find blogging so liberating - there are no definitions or labels binding me.

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

also why do we compare our realities with their facades? when i learned not to do this it made a huge impact on my life.

nice post and thanks for the visit and lovely comment!

smiles, bee

Blur Ting said...

Don't worry, when you're older like me, you'll realise that it doesn't matter so much anymore how people perceive you. You become comfortable in your own skin and that's what matters most cos you're living your life for yourself, not anyone else.