As an offshoot of last week's discussion at the Gay-Straight Alliance club meeting that I help facilitate, the topic of how hard it was to change people's perceptions of you came up.
The point made was that if you make a mistake as a freshman, and word gets out that, say, you're a "Big Slut" - that's a hard label to shake. Even if you act like Mother Teresa or one of the nuns from "The Sound Of Music" (okay, not Maria, but you get my point...) everyone's still going to be calling you a "Big Slut" for the rest of your entire high school career. You don't get to change who you are until you've left high school and are making a new life for yourself in college.
The general consensus among the kids attending was that they agreed. It's super hard to get anyone to see you in a different way once minds were decided, once labels were made and given. Labels are sticky.
But then one of the other very smart faculty adults at the meeting offered up this idea:
Why not take on NEW labels for yourself, all the time? How about a NEW label, every day? Even though there might be some people who would still try to call you a "Big Slut," they'd also have to contend with the fact that you're a "Brainiac," you're a "Fashion Icon," you're a "Super-Chef," you're a "Soccer Star," you're a "Stock Market Wizard," you're an "Artist," you're a "Fanboy," you're a "Reading Fiend," you're an "Iconoclast," you're YOU.
It was a great point - we're ALL multifaceted, and while we may get one label we don't like, we can add others to make up a more real and full picture of who we are.
There are lists and lists of labels speaking to the negative. Lots of words to put us down. To tear at our self-confidence. To inflate others in their eyes by trying to deflate us.
But guess what?
We are each the master of our own destinies. We get to define ourselves, too.
So, to get the ball rolling, here are some labels I CLAIM for myself.
So if you're going to call me names - go ahead and include some of the labels I claim for myself, too!
Let me know what labels you CLAIM for yourself!