Please Don’t Label Me Too

jeans and feet

“Definitions belong to the definers, not the defined.”  ― Toni Morrison


I really don’t like the labels that have been put on me over the years, because, to me, they are always changing, as I grow. Yet, all my life, I have been labeled.

When I was young, my labels were that I was HD (Hyperactive) and I was too sensitive.

When I was a teen, my labels were that I was Angry, too Emotional, Extroverted, and a Pessimist (of course this was after many years of bullying abuse, so many of the labels came from that)

When I was a young adult, I was labeled with a Meiers Briggs test as an ENFJ (extraversion, intuition, feeling, judgment), a pessimist, low self-esteem, anxious, stressed, and finally depressed.

Now I am a middle-aged adult and people see me as a leader, an extrovert that loves attention, and someone who easily talks and speaks in public. Another label put on me. But I finally get it. It’s what we do and in the meantime, I work to live up to these expectations.

But then I don’t. I like my alone time. After being around a large group, I need to meditate and find alone time. Wait, these aren’t the actions of an extrovert. These are the actions of an introvert. There are other times I have great self-doubt and self-loathing.

Then I pick myself up again and start again. And I realize, I have continually tried to live up to the labels put on me because that’s the societal way.  But it’s not who I am. I had to learn that I am an introverted extrovert. Not one label, but several, based on how I was feeling at that particular time, and what my emotions were telling me. It’s the label…it’s always been the label.

I now ask myself “what is normal”? I hear no answer-back. Normal is how I feel each moment of each day and what I need to cope and survive. As I age, so do the changes in my mental moods. I might still come out as an ENFJ in a test or be told I am so extroverted. But I now don’t accept the labels. In other instances, and when I had anxiety, I was very introverted and lost in myself, wanting to be alone to avoid the feelings that anxiety raised.

What labels have been put on you? Do you accept them blindly or say to yourself “that’s not how I feel I am”? I am cautious as to who is telling me how and who I am. What labels they put on me and what I do about them. I had to do a lot of research to learn more that I am a “highly sensitive person” with a lean toward “introverted extrovert” ways and not necessarily these labels all the time. In fact, some people would say I’m not very emotional. Having anxiety and depression and finding coping mechanisms that worked is why that is. But I know who I am on the inside. Knowing that and letting yourself be who you are without the labels is very freeing and while it may confuse others, I am no longer confused. Those labels have nothing on me anymore.

I am simply me and each day I wake up, I’ll found out which one of me is showing up. I don’t try to confuse those around me. I’m simply living with my authentic self and he refuses to be labeled.

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About Alan Eisenberg

Alan Eisenberg is a Certified Life Coach, Bullying Recovery activist and author of "A Ladder In The Dark: My journey from bullying to self-acceptance" and "Crossing the Line". He has been writing and speaking to various audiences about the issue of C-PTSD and Bullying Recovery. Mr. Eisenberg has been featured on several print, radio shows and podcasts on this issue, including NPR and in the Boston Globe
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