Thursday, November 3, 2016

Peel off those labels

Labels are something that helps us identify things to sort them in an orderly manner. If you refer to Judeo-Christian beliefs, one of the most important things done in the Garden of Eden was to name things, to say X or Z was really tree and man and birds to create some sense of order. All in all, labels aren't necessarily a bad thing, if all they do is to help give a sense of order... but when labels limit who and how you are, then you can see why labels aren't necessarily a good thing.

"Oh my god, that's such a Libra thing to do."

"These damn millenials keep making things difficult."

"I am INFJ, INTJ, INFP, ENFP, so I wil do this and this and that."

Truth be told, I have several friends whom I hold in high esteem who actually identify with one label or another and in a sense, it's good because it helps them understand themselves better (something I'm completely for). But sometimes I see people in different circles who use labels as a crutch or a justification. I'm this way because I'm this label, so I'm trapped in the confines of what someone else decided that defines me. 

I've never liked labels especially when someone has pigeonholed me into a corner because since I'm X or Y I have to be X or Y way. I remember on one occasion one particular person said, "oh that's such a thing to do for a copywriter." I still think she's kind of a ditz for the comment because what I did had nothing to do with my profession but she wanted to find common ground because she also worked in a creative department in an ad agency. And she said about 3 or 4 similar comments during a lunch hour. Needless to say, we're not even "friends" on Facebook. 

The probleem I have with labels is when someone uses a label to justify a behavior of themselves they're not really fond of. It's not that the person is inherently lazy, easily irritable, lacks drive and conviction, is insecure, is an egotist, or is an asshole, it's just that their label is that way. They are not at fault, it's their condition. I've seen great people cut themselves completely short because they believe that since they are a certain way, they can't change. 

Well here's a news flash, labels are convenient but in the long run don't mean a thing. They might help to better understand you, but the fact remains that it only helps you understand a part of you. Those other parts that you haven't tapped into yet and ARE there, they don't benefit from labels. Quite the contrary, they are burdened and limited because of the flag you fly under. 

As a writer (which is only one part of me) I hate defining myself as a poet, fantasy writer, sci-fi writer, or YA writer. I'm a writer. I use the label writer just so you know I do things with words, that I like doing things with words, and that maybe you might like the things I do with words. I write. But I also bodyboard. And I also play guitar and do my best attempt to sing. And love standup. And love sushi. And love steak. And eat vegetarian meals. And love metal. And love Ani Difranco. And find ballet occasionally pleasing. And adore boxing. And always buy the Halloween cereals. And also try to eat right. I speak Spanish as my first language, English as my second language, and am fluent in Geek. Not Greek. GEEK. Hold the R thank you very much. I very much identify myself as a geek, dork, nerd, and jackass, because that is also a part of me. I love to dance salsa music but have been known to dance in a bathroom to relieve stress. I'm not kidding. I do it to TV on the Radio. And it helps. I love Tori Amos. I love Pearl Jam. I love Asian Kung Fu Generation. I love Messhugah. I love mint chocolate chip ice cream or a good salad.

In my life I've been known as short tempered, grumpy, nasty, kind, loving, irreverent, respectful, tactful, idiotic, emotionally stable, emotionally fragile, strong, weak, and what have you. But one thing remains, I let people use the labels they want to describe me but the job of defining who and how I am is all on me. I may have certain traits, but that doesn't mean other traits aren't within. I accept this because I don't want to ever limit myself or the emotions or activities I can enjoy. 

My nature is to be pessimistic, but every single day I strive to give my best, to be an asset, to be a highlight. I have insecurities, but every single day I push past those insecurities to share a slice of who I am. That's because rather than limit myself, I am open to anything that is within me so I can explore in the hopes of unlocking new doors and letting the wind run through my soul. 

My name is JD Estrada. That's my author name. I have another name. I actually have several names. I'm 36 years old. I have no idea what I am but I do know who I am, and every day I try to get to know that person with no judgment, no limitations, and no labels. 

Peace, love, and maki rolls. 

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