"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
I have been looking at this quote for a week and thinking about what it means to me. What lies within me? What lies within me beyond the labels...beyond the common terms...beyond what I tell myself in the down moments. What is truly the fillet o'fish, as it were.
But the truth is I don't know. I have spent such a long time living with labels that I don't know how to describe myself (notice I did not say define) without a label. Part of that comes from the society we live in; we don't know how to approach someone unless they have a label we can identify. (I just had to give an introduction on a listserv I am on, and every single introduction was chock full of labels.) That's how we recognize one another. Label A matches Label A, and Label B matches Label B. Label A and Label B don't generally get along. But what happens when you're Label PRQTZ? But also, part of this comes from within. I label myself. I label myself a metric TON. I learned early on in life that it was easier to tell people what I wasn't or was than to try to have a conversation about it. Conversations involved sharing stuff about myself, and I wasn't comfortable doing that. I'm still not comfortable giving away precious information, and I still label myself - but at least now I question it. Why do I need the labels? I interact with people who are Label A all the way to Label ZBHYT. Why do *I* need to label *myself*? Here's what I think I've learned:
I am bisexual, but it does not define me as a person.
I am a pagan, but it does not define me as a person.
I am a rape / sexual molestation survivor, but it does not define me as a person (though it did for a really long time).
I am a submissive, but it does not define me as a person.
I am a dominant, but it does not define me as a person.
I have multiple personalities, but this does not define me as a person.
I have multiple health issues, but they do not define me as a person.
I am polyamorous, but it does not define me as a person.
I am a liar, a cheat, a thief, a beggar, and a princess, but these labels do not define me as a person.
I am engaging, effervescent, socially inept, and dramatically needy, but these things do not define me as a person.
And maybe that is the whole point. Maybe we're not supposed to define ourselves with labels. Maybe, in the end, we're meant to surpass labels and just be who we are. You know, think outside of the box a little bit. Maybe the point is to smoosh all of those labels together like play dough and make a nice, pretty rainbow on the inside.