December 8, 2010

because people change.

The way you label yourself can be a dangerous, self-destructive game.

If someone once called you a perfectionist or a people pleaser or a terrible cook, you hold onto that. Tightly. You remember that label years later and dwell on it, convinced that it's true, until--lo and behold--you've actually gone ahead and made it true. Somewhere along the line you imposed the label on yourself and ever since, you've attached that word to who you believe you are. 

You especially pay attention to the ones that meant the most at the time--for better or for worse. Someone told you that you were a great painter in the second grade? Ta-da! You're convinced that you're an artist from then on, the best of the best. You hear that you look terrible in yellow? You never buy the color again. Ever.

Whether the label is good--"You're a fabulous photographer!"--or not so good--"You know, you can be really selfish sometimes..."--you become convinced that the labels are right on, that you really are those things... And the more you tell yourself that you are a certain way, the more you actually become that way. 

But this is ridiculous, this habit of yours. 
It's false and unhealthy and you end up hurting no one but yourself.

Because the thing is, you're never all one thing... you can be a wonderful cook one day and then stir up the world's worst recipe the next. Back in the day you may have been a star math student--gold star stickers and all--but maybe, later on, calculus stumps you. And that's fine. That's normal. That's expected. Because we are fluid and flexible. We are adaptable. 

What I'm trying to say is--we tend to ignore our own changeable nature. 

We talk a whole lot about change in certain areas of our lives--in work, in love, in our latest look. But for whatever reason, we tend to forget that we may have changed in other ways, too... Maybe you're not the submissive people pleaser you once were--maybe you've learned to be more self-confident, more independent. Maybe you're not so passive anymore, either, because you've learned--at long, long last--to stick up for yourself. Or maybe yellow really is your color, just in a different shade.

You have to let go of those little labels you've gotten so wrapped up in, those haunting words that bounce around in your brain: selfish, neurotic, anxious--because the important thing is to know yourself as you are. Not as you've been or as you will be, but as you are right now, today, as is. 

Oh, and you should also buy yellow sweaters.
Because yes, (ahem), you can pull off a good j.crew mustard.

(Photo: moe de triana)


dennicapearl said... [Reply to comment]

your blog is like my morning cup of inspiration.
this post was beautiful, down to the last word.


KT Mac said... [Reply to comment]

I love this. It's exactly what I'm struggling with these days.

DT said... [Reply to comment]

wow! i am really loving your posts...
they are so thoughtful and inspiring...

HanneeNz said... [Reply to comment]

I love this post! Thank you! I feel totally refreshed and ready to be who ever I want to be. I try not to think too much about what people have said in the past, but sometimes its hard, and your post makes me have faith in myself as I am today. Have a lovely day.

wichser studio said... [Reply to comment]

I think I'm always commenting "thank you" on this blog haha. But seriously, Thank you!

Emily said... [Reply to comment]

I never really thought about things this way, but you are absolutely right. (and you know what? maybe I DO look good in yellow...!)

annie said... [Reply to comment]

this is one of my favorite posts of yours; you never cease to inspire, but this one really struck a chord. thank you for the reminder!

ChinkyGirLMeL said... [Reply to comment]

I was just about to do a post similar to this one. Last month, there was a little office drama. Someone called someone stupid. Sure the girl sometimes does really silly things, but it kind of surprised me how she was asking me to explain something to her and she kept apologizing for being stupid. poor girl. I know she's not stupid, I've seen the way she works and she has a lot of potential. I just wish she wouldn't actually live the character of being stupid. Great post sweetie. =)

Marissa said... [Reply to comment]

Laura, this post is phenomenal! I have been feeling/thinking some of the things you covered in here the past few months or so, and just felt like you hit this topic right on. Your blog is quickly becoming one of my favorite daily reads, for inspiration and encouragement about meaningful life topics. Thank you for sharing this!

I just requested to follow you on twitter, by the way. :)


A Serenade for Solitude said... [Reply to comment]

What a great post. So very true. Labels can be hurtful and confusing. I am a school bully prevention trainer and I know much about the possible effects that scenarios like these cause. Not cool. Not right. Thanks for the inspiring read!

Larissa Wunder said... [Reply to comment]

I love this!

Emily Lou said... [Reply to comment]

this post made my day. thank you. :)

Lauren said... [Reply to comment]

I love this post a lot!


Cassy said... [Reply to comment]

you have no idea how influential this post has been to my way of thinking about myself and my life right now. it is EXACTLY something i needed to hear. in fact, it is probably exactly what a lot of people need to hear. thank you for writing it. i am saving it and posting about it, because it is a valuable lesson many might need to be reminded of. :) i am once again, convinced of how wonderful, insightful and beautiful your soul is.

Rachael said... [Reply to comment]

Love this post! Someone was in a introspective mood wasn't she?.... Seriously though, that was great to read, and to think about.

Morgan said... [Reply to comment]

This post made me realize something I never thought of before. Thank you for the inspiration. :)

Morgan ♥

mice_aliling said... [Reply to comment]

I just stumbled upon your blog and it's very interesting. I like the randomness of it. :) Continue writing.

jackiek said... [Reply to comment]

thank you so much for this post! it's so very true in our society now more then ever, and i think that it's a great reminder that when we fail, it means we've tried. i believe it's better to have fallen while trying then to not try because of being afraid to fail.

Laura Marie said... [Reply to comment]

Thanks for all your kind comments, everyone--I so, so appreciate it! :)

Carissa said... [Reply to comment]

what a beautiful post. and a great reminder. just what I needed to hear. read. there's a few labels that I hold on to, some true, some not, and I need to just let them go! and you know what? I may be pale, but I LOVE my mustard sweater :)

my name is lauren. said... [Reply to comment]

i am so glad you wrote this post. i'd never thought of it this way before, but you are so right. labels really can turn into self-fulfilling prophecies. i can actually think of a couple i have for myself (ironically it's that i don't look good in yellow...i may need to give j.crew mustard another whirl :).)

thanks for sharing this!

Kelly said... [Reply to comment]

thank you for this post. it's so true and I really needed it right now : )

kara lynn said... [Reply to comment]

yes you are an amazing writer!!

Oh, My Darling said... [Reply to comment]

Laura, I completely love this post!!! Thanks for sharing this great message with us, I couldn't agree more. It's funny, my ex-boyfriend felt that people couldn't change, which I think was one of the biggest issues between us because I totally embrace self-improvement and evolution of people and relationships. This post totally helped me remember that his perspective is a really unfortunate one to have.