In my high school, students were more concerned with clothes and how they looked to define themselves or at least to help create an image. They never really bothered with labels to make a personal connection with one’s personality as a means to define who they were.
Since college, more and more people look to labels to define and determine their personalities. They use these labels to measure their beauty, style, personality and sometimes even their self-worth. People use labels to define themselves.
When I was younger, I grew up around all males. I didn’t have any sisters and my female cousins lived far away. So being surrounded by two brothers and two male cousins, I became a tomboy. I used to dress in guys’ clothing sometimes and lived in tennis shoes. Nowadays, I am embracing my feminine side slowly and I still have a long way to go.
My best friend loves to get her nails done. On the one hand, I don’t necessarily see the point in paying someone to paint your nails. One day my best friend took me to get my nails done and I told the story to one of my guy friends and he told me that he even sometimes forgets I am a girl because I don’t act like it. Yet another label – being “one of the guys” – was added to me.
Before college, I was only seen as an African-American. Since I came to college, people around me began to give me more labels. In college, I became the dark-skinned girl.
The funny thing is, I never realized that I was dark-skinned compared to other people. The shade of my skin has never been an important topic or something to notice.
I still didn’t care until I realized that being dark-skinned was seen as less beautiful and attractive compared to my light-skinned counterparts. Since that day, my skin tone has become more noticeable when I look in the mirror. The aspect of me that I never saw as a measure of my beauty has become a new label, which is dark-skinned.
My ethnicity has also become another label. Back then it was something I was proud of but now it has become a required duty to inform people just so they can place another label.
I had a friend that I met my freshman year of college and just a few months ago he found out that I was Nigerian due to a group I was a member of on Facebook. When he asked me why I didn’t tell him that my parents were from Nigeria, I simply responded by stating it’s a part of me but it doesn’t tell you about who I am.
I am constantly changing because I am the type of person who hates structure as compared to creativity. When I walk around on campus I love to observe people. A couple of months ago I started to notice all the designer-labeled clothing, including Baby Phat, Nike and Ralph Lauren.
It seemed as if everyone was dressing in the same way but in different colors. From then on, I declared that I wanted to drastically change my style to something resembling a punk rocker, which meant my fashion icons would now include rockers like Gwen Stefani and Fefe Dobson. Since I declared this to my friends and family, the word “crazy” has been added to the list of labels used to describe me.
I don’t say or do things like that to get a rise out of people, but it happens anyways. In my perspective, labels have a negative connotation. They are just shortcuts in getting to know a person without going through the effort of actually getting to know a person.
I don’t want to be defined by these labels because there is so much more to me than a couple of words can tell you. As college students, there are already enough labels out there that we have to get past and fight through. This is especially true when we get out there in the real world and add more to ourselves each day.
Don’t let the labels place you in a box. Let your personality be unrestricted by my labels and stop caring what people say about you, because in the end you must live your life for yourself!