Guest post from bestselling author Nicholas Britton
It seems our society has become obsessed with labels. We have to come up with a label for everything and everyone. If something doesn’t fit into a category, people will spend hours upon hours creating an explanation for it or creating a new category because everything needs to fit in a box.
I went to school to be a teacher. While working in preschool, I saw people try to label kids as young as infants with every label you could think of by teachers and parents who were looking for answers.
If you listen to kids talk at school, from elementary and beyond, they label each other by how they look, their intelligence levels, their interests and skills, pretty much anything you can think of. Adults do it too. Introverts vs extroverts. INTJ, ENTP, and the other 14 MBTI personality types, depressed, bipolar, obese, skinny, average, athletic, straight, gay, black, brown, white, you name it. Basically everything needs to be explained by a label.
Very early in my life I had to see a speech language pathologist (SLP) because my Individualized Education Plan (IEP) stated that I needed help. Several years later I was told that I had ADHD and my IEP followed me to high school. I then graduated from high school, ( the whole time being in Special Education (SPED) calsses, and planned to enroll in the United States Army.
I soon found out that these acronyms which defined me my whole life were going to prevent me from achieving some of my dreams. I was able to get a BA and BS from a very prestigious military academy, but decided to get a M.Ed in ECE and SPED to learn more about these acronyms and labels.
We all have labels. Some may be “accurate,” “justifiable” or “understandable”. Others may be completely bogus, forced or inaccurate. Labels are everywhere. Some are scientific, political, and researched based. Others are adjectives that people use to put someone into a category, true or not. For some reason we need labels to explain everything.
The problem with society’s overuse of labels is that we begin to believe we are what we are labelled and a self fulfilling prophecy kicks in. I have seen it in kids, teenagers, and adults. Somebody is called dumb as a child, they begin to believe it and they give up. Another person is told they can’t do something because of their gender, race or age and they give up, belief in this label so powerful it controls them. We’ve all been there. Unfortunately some labels are so harsh and controlling, they cost lives, they cost dreams and they cost relationships.
I spent over twenty years of my life allowing acronyms to control my life. To either motivate or derail me from accomplishing what I wanted. The moment that we stop allowing acronyms to control us is when we begin to learn and know freedom. As I stated in my two books, life can be solved with two words, made up of 22 letters and no acronyms. PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY.
If I had listened to others and the labels that they gave me throughout my life, I couldn’t imagine my life would be this exciting and fulfilling. That I wouldn’t have reached my full potential or happiness. Somehow I was fortunate enough to figure this out and work every day to destroy every box that others have tried to place me in.
I encourage and challenge others to do the same, especially those put into boxes similar to the ones I was placed in. Boxes that tell you that you can’t be someone or do something that you want to do. Boxes that limit your potential. Boxes that can devalue or degrade you.
No one needs these. Smash them. Destroy them. Create your own life however you want it. Don’t let someone dictate how your story turns out. Write your own story and make sure to include your own happy ending.
About Nick Britton