The above are all words/terms that one could use to describe me or my family. There may be more than I'm unaware of.
Some might call them labels.
I suppose they are. Because no single one can adequately represent a whole person.
I guess people need to compartmentalize things in order to make sense of them. I know I do for some things. Honestly, it probably helps keep our heads from exploding due to all the information being thrown at us from so many directions.
The thing about labels is that they can pigeonhole people. Pigeonholing leads to a lack of respect for the whole person. People don't mean to do this. It's just easier. We have to make a concerted effort not to.
Labels come from what we see on the surface. Someone who knows you well doesn't label you. But I bet they did when they first met you.
Labels can also be considered judgments. Being judged sucks. For example, the label of ADD on my daughter. Many parents fight having labels like this placed upon their kids because they fear their child will be dismissed or overlooked, or judged as a "problem child".
Yes, it's a label, but in this instance, I feel it also serves to help describe my daughter's personality. It helps us understand her better knowing she has ADD and isn't some crazy, random person. We can better understand her style of learning and make accommodations therein because she doesn't fit inside the typical kid box.
So I think labels can be double-edged swords. Judgement vs. understanding.
I have been
Lately I seem to be being labeled as fragile. I have heard more than once things like "I didn't wanna bother you" or "you have enough on your plate, you don't need me adding to it". Also, "How are you, Jen?" and "Are you sure you're OK?".
On the surface it seems nice that people are trying to be thoughtful of my feelings and stress level. It is nice. But what it also makes me feel is "handled" or "coddled". And that's frustrating. I don't want to be treated differently because of what I'm going through, and I still want the opportunity to decide for myself what I can or can't handle. One of the things I wonder about most when thinking about my life as a widow someday is, will people become awkward around me? Will the label of widow be all that people see?
Being visually impaired has never been a huge label to overcome simply because I'm not totally blind. My loved ones often forget I can't see very well and walk away from me in the middle of a dark parking lot! Strangers see that I wear thick glasses, but they have no idea they don't correct me to 20/20 unless I make it obvious, and then they still aren't sure. Being totally blind is a huge label that comes with a myriad of preconceived notions one has to hurdle.
Now, that's not to say my eyes don't cause me any issues. Oh they do, don't you worry! But they're personal anxiety, self-conscious sorts of issues. And really, the least of my worries.
My body. Not something I enjoy discussing. I've blogged about how I feel about my body only one other time. The reason is, just like Ashley Judd so eloquently expressed at The Daily Beast two weeks ago, it doesn't freaking matter. Or it shouldn't. She said, "We experience brutal criticism. The dialogue is constructed so that our bodies are a source of speculation, ridicule, and invalidation, as if they belong to others." And I say, all that matters when it comes to a person's body is how they feel about it, and perhaps how their doctor feels about it. I mean, talk about the ultimate surfacy aspect of a person and judging a book by its cover.
I am more than a SAHM. Mark is more than a sick person. Camyn is more than a kid with ADD. AJ is more than a loud little boy.
I AM a dork.
We are ALL more than any one thing. Any one label.
I would even venture to say that this is perhaps one of the biggest reasons why there are so many bloggers. So we can shout to the world how much we really are. To tell our stories without being SSHed.
This post was inspired by Ashley Judd and Just.Be.Enough's "Change the Conversation" prompt for Be Enough Me, and is being linked with Yeah Write #54.
Also, next Monday is my 2 year blogoversary! I'd love to do a Q&A with you guys for the occasion. So here I've added a form in which you can anonymously submit your question (or identify yourself if you want!). Anything you've been dying to know about me that I haven't already disclosed? Anything you'd like me to elaborate on? Don't be shy; ask away! (If I don't like your question, I just won't answer it.)