Reflections 105: Labels are a detriment to crafting your story

Being conditioned to follow a certain path was the way I was raised to be successful in life. You go to school at a certain age, you find the “perfect career”, you get married at this age and you have kids. But what happens when that doesn’t work out for you? What happens when circumstances are out of your control? Most importantly, what if you choose not to get married or go to school? Are you a failure?

I struggled with the courage to question why we are conditioned to follow a certain traditional path to be successful. Granted, some of that stems from cultural biases – such as not having the “proper career”. When I decided to have my own blog, I informed my close friends and family but avoided expressing it to my mom. My mom is my biggest cheerleader but she never understood my love for writing. She couldn’t fathom why someone with an accounting background would aspire to be a writer. Little did she know I always had an affinity to write. My love for words became manifested when I made the decision to create my blog.

My mom wasn’t the only one who scratched her head when she realized I was a blogger. To add insult to injury, I was personally told “curating a blog is a waste of time”. That might be true for someone who has an acute distaste for writing and social media. Everyone is entitled to their opinions but let’s just make one fact clear: My existence is not directly correlated with assimilating to society’s expectations. My mission is clear – to be the author of my narrative. I’d rather have full reign over my journey, than to be a meager sidekick in my own story.

If we don’t utilize our voice to share our stories, we will leave a space for others to dictate our narrative thereby fostering certain labels which we will eventually self identity with. I’m not referring to packaging labels lol. I’m referring to labels that are socially constructed as a result of our upbringing, perception, life experience etc. Not all labels are intended to be lethal. However, some can do more harm than good. For example, the practice of assigning others into a box. If you are an Architect by trade, does your passion for creating music make you less qualified to design thought provoking structures? What if your creativity to design buildings is attributed to your experience as a Musician? If history is any indication, confining yourself into a box is a limitation of your development.

While it’s not easy to push against labels, these are the lessons I have learned from my own journey:

  1. Love is not a precursor to self-fulfillment. I know what’s best for you never worked and it never will. No one can define your experience or instinct – it is yours for a reason. The only love that can guarantee self fulfillment is investing in yourself – hence the saying, love yourself first. If people can’t keep up with your self development, then maybe it’s time to reassess who is in your circle. Life isn’t a linear equation – as we grow, our interest can change. After all, people can only see what you decide to be.

  2. Live a life of service. You might want to sip your coffee slowly for this one. I wholeheartedly believe that all humans have a responsibility to help one another regardless of any affiliations. There is no greater honor than to be in the service of a human being – the level of contentment is unimaginable. One of the ways I contribute to doing good is through storytelling. My blog posts are intended to inspire people to reflect because that is how I found myself. My first piece “Light” illustrated my journey through depression and through deep reflections I was able to slowly overcome my struggles. I was amazed by the warm reception I received from my followers and some of them even expressed their deepest struggles. I write because I want to make an impact even if it requires me to be vulnerable.

  3. Never doubt your journey. We grow, we adapt, we learn and it’s a continuous cycle. We might face setbacks but that might just be a wake up call to do things differently. The only thing we can control is our attitude. The mind is a powerful tool if used to its fullest potential. A friend of mine once said, fail is another way of saying first attempt in learning. Even at your worst, just remember we are all students of life.

I hope you enjoyed my post. Feel free to share comments. Let’s keep the conversation going:

#howdoyoufightagainstlabels

Until next time,

XOXO

Isra

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