A lot gets said about the subject of labels and how useful (or not) they are. A lot of people are very fond of saying that they don’t like labels, they scoff at them. And then an hour later they use them to describe other people or themselves. Labels are useful, but they get used far too often for the wrong purposes. When they are used to assist in understanding behavior of a group, they can be invaluable. When you try to use them on an individual basis, you are often making a huge error.
I have had many labels over the years and I still label myself to help people understand some of the things about me. If I were to list all the labels that are applicable to me, the list would be longer than I care to read or write. Unfortunately, the labels never seem to fit. In all my years I have struggled to fit in, to feel as if there was a group out there for me. We all struggle to fit in somewhere, with varying degrees of success. I always failed to fit in. The labels and groups I tried out never quite fit. To this day I cannot find any one single label or group that I can fit into. There always seem to be rules that I cannot agree with, philosophical differences, clothing choices, etc.
Nowadays I think of my collection of labels like a seriously bizarre wardrobe. I have bits and pieces of labels that apply to me, and other bits and pieces of these subcultures that I left scattered along the highway of my life. The discarded debris of my journey to “fit in”. I no longer feel the need to fit in, I am loved by those who matter. The ones who matter don’t care and the ones who care don’t matter. I can still apply dozens of labels to myself if I want, but if I list them, you’d just stare and wonder how the labels get along. I am a collection of contradictions, and I’m actually proud of that. When someone calls me strange or weird, I just say “thank you” and smile.
I know, I know, you want at least SOME examples so you can know where I’m coming from. Ok, but don’t say that you haven’t been warned. I am an ordained minister and I take my vows seriously, but I’m not christian nor do I belong to or associate with any known church or religion. I am a veteran but I detest war. I am non-violent but will kill to eat. I am kinda goth, but I don’t like much goth music. I am married and I see nothing wrong with polyamory. I’m an androgyne and I used to be active in TG (transgender) communities until I was treated like a pariah for being an androgyne. I am heterosexual, but the female in my mind thinks that Adam Lambert is super cute and worth thinking about. I love muscle cars and I’ve been known to utter yeehaw when I hear a loud engine rumble, while at the same time I love fashion dolls and pretty dresses. I have been called a pagan and even confused for a wiccan, but those communities often scoffed at my religious beliefs when I discussed them.
So, do you get along with your labels? Are they mostly discarded trash or do they define you?