Who am I? Who do I want to become? What do I value in life? Youth transitioning from childhood to adulthood find themselves thrown into the process of self identity. In a commercialized society structured around labeling, it is no surprise that many teens respond to the process of self discovery by wearing labels proudly across their chest like gold medals. Sometimes, we label others or ourselves as a way to demean, forcing us or others into an association with negative or unappealing traits. Other times, we label with the goal to uplift or inspire, creating a stereotype of specific positive traits that the person must withhold. Though different types of labels can serve various purposes, there is a commonality around them all: labels limit. Sometimes labels are used to help us try and reach an end goal, encouraging us to move towards a positive way of living or being. However, when a person feels immediately defined to a group with a stereotypical set of characteristics, they often feel limited to acting within those sets of traits. This does not allow for growth outside of these areas, or give room for error to be made. From the beginning of our journey into adulthood, we are already told how we should act and who we should be. How can we expect ourselves to grow as a whole if we are constantly labeling? This week, I have spent a lot of time reflecting on the labels that others give me, as well as the labels I give myself. I have found that I put a lot of pressure on myself to be a great catalyst for social change, when in reality, I am still figuring out what I stand for and how I want to go about incorporating my beliefs into daily life. It has been an empowering experience to take a deep breath and grant myself permission to act outside of the labels that have defined me for so long. I encourage my readers to grab a piece of paper. Develop two lists, one comprising of labels that outside sources have granted you, and another consisting of labels you give yourself. Look at these labels and reflect on how they affect your daily life. Do they limit your personal development or do they inspire exploration? If certain labels do not serve you, how can you move away from the labels that do not serve you in your process of self discovery? In order to create the life we want, we first discover who we truly are. In order to find ourselves, we must accept that we know nothing at all, and allow for growth outside of what we think we know about ourselves and the universe around us. I wish you great peace and love on your self reflective journey!
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