Sunday, August 30, 2009

I Must Needs Be Labeled

Over the past few months I've been thinking about how I would go about resetting my blog.  I felt like I had gotten to a point where I was writing myself into a corner on account of how I talked about my goals for the blog vs. where it ended up going.  Ultimately, I was using this blog to search for my identity.  But upon trying on different things in that attempt, I found myself getting locked into conditions that I wasn't comfortable with.   I started to worry a lot about being consistent, as if I was writing to an audience that was expecting me to only write a particular way and only about particular things. 

I wanted to present myself in a way that showed that I was mature, refined and intelligent.  Am I any of those things?  Who am I?  What am I?  What does it mean to be something?  I have been trying to figure that out my whole life.  I needed a definition.   I wanted to find my voice.  And I was searching for a role.  What is my role? 

It took me awhile to realize that when trying to define who I am by assigning myself a role, I'm no longer myself.  I'm that role.  And what was defining this role?  Perceptions?  Who's perceptions?  Mine?  Or my opinion of how I think others would perceive me.   Yeah, not just how I think others would perceive me but my opinion of how I think others would perceive me.   Such that I would attempt to predict how they might perceive me in a particular way, and then I would add to that judgment a judgment, good or bad, based solely on what I judge they might be thinking. 

Complicated?  Yeah, and fucking ridiculous too.  It's all a judgment of a judgment of a judgment of a judgment where all judgments are pulled out of my ass. I could probably channel that creativity into something more productive.

Unfortunately it's a bad habit from decades of habitually not thinking about the habitual thinking patterns that feed themselves with more bad habitual non-thinking. 

Wait, does that even make sense?  Yea, it does now that I've reread it a few times.  I just had to think about it.

We are taught in our youth that labels matter.   Yes, we are taught this.  We are taught to identify ourselves by those labels.  Is that why insults and name calling hurt so much?  Is it no wonder why we are cautioned not to use them to intentionally hurt people?  If labels didn't matter, we couldn't use them to hurt.  But they do matter and we do use them to hurt.  All the while we tell ourselves that we don't mean to hurt people. But we do. And we hurt ourselves too.

We give others permission, we give ourselves permission and sometimes we think we've been given permission by The Lord God Almighty™  to use labels, sometimes to intentionally hurt people.  The scriptures are full of labels.  Lists and lists of them.  All based on the author's personal bias.  Who is the author?  God?  It depends on who you talk to but many believe it was god.  Many of those believers gave themselves important, authoritarian sounding labels which gave them power over those who didn't. 

I spent decades being deceptively beaten into submission and subjected to the dictates of importantly labeled people.  So, any of my efforts to define my existence had basically been done for me.  I didn't have to figure it out.  I took it for granted that the labels placed on me, as to my identity, were who I really was?  

It started with simple labels that put an identity to how my behavior was being perceived by others: shy, quiet, bashful, funny, obedient, mature, depressed, arrogant, obnoxious, intelligent, annoying.   These were incidental moments, but over time, I adopted them as to who I was.  I could identify with these things easily. The definitions came from a dictionary.

Then there were the more abstract and complicated labels.  These were to deepen my identity and give it greater responsibility: Son, Brother, Friend, Student, Christian, Mormon, Child of God, Sinner, Homosexual, Abomination, Sodomite, Pervert, Pedophile, Apostate.  These roles were harder to define.  Too many different perspectives and opinions as to what these roles meant.  It was harder to adapt to these roles.  They kept changing depending on the time or the place or the other person's perception.  I resisted many of them but they would stir in the back of my mind, beckoning me to define and attach to my identity. 

What did they say about me?  Obnoxious?  Christian? Sinner? Mature? Pervert? Child of God? Pedophile? Am I these things?  How do I know?  How do they respond to the idea of each of these things?  If they think the label is positive can I meet their expectations? Should I meet them?  If it's negative is it true?  What is my experience?  If I believe their perceptions are valid then those labels might be true, even if I don't like them, even if they are not true.  What do I do?  If they are not true am I going to need to take on opposing roles so as to appear unpredictable and inconsistent, also labels, in order to hide or disassociate from them?  Hopefully those labels would be taken away if I did.  Or do I just resign my identity to the labeling authorities' and live accordingly so as not to counter their expectations of what I should do thereby avoiding unwanted conflict? 

It's psychotic.  Once these labels are assigned, they taint how we perceive others and ourselves; we distort who we really are. 

So, all this time I've been caught up in labels, caught up with needing a label for my identity.  Who am I?  What am I?  What am I right now?   Does it have a label?  Writer?  Brother?  Son?  Homosexual?  Pervert? Etc.?  Or can I just believe that I am mature, refined and intelligent?  At least that's what I tell myself to counter the negative labels that I've been forced to identify with.  But, ultimately, that just causes me to take on a role of self-righteousness and arrogance as it's only a reaction to anyone who I perceived as not being mature, refined and intelligent.

No.  I'm not any of these things.  They are all someone else's version of me.  And in the end these roles require that I behave in ways that are also defined by someone else.  None of them describe the being that is me. 

Does it matter? 

I want to understand myself but, again, the moment I think I have an understanding I've already assigned it a role, a label, based on someone else's perception.  It's the classic physics problem wherein the attempt to measure the event causes the event to change.  We are only ourselves when we are not trying to define, label or categorize ourselves.

Our existence seems to evade traditional definability.  Are we then indefinable?  We can't even say we are human as that is really only a label to describe our physical from.  It's not who we are.  The best I could say as a definition is that we are beings who are aware of ourselves. 

So, when I'm not thinking about who I am, I'm not trying to be someone.  At that point I'm just me. If I can be content to never understanding who I am does that mean I've finally found who I am?   I can't really put my finger on why, but this actually makes sense to me. 

So, anyway, back to this blog... I've decided what I'm going to do about it. 

Nothing. 

It is what it is: a public presentation of some guy's journey in life marked with specific points in time by long strings of words that reflect the contents of his brain as he dumps it from a big dump truck and pipes it into the series of tubes that is the Internet. 

He'll think whatever, and write whatever.

You can read whatever and think whatever.  If you feel inclined to comment, you can write whatever.

Win-Win!

Yay!

2 comments :

  1. Your post sounds like the inside of my brain! Identity is a bitch. I was raised in a cult (I consider LDS a cult, too) and think that prevented me from forming a proto-personality.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I related in so many ways to this blog post. Thank you for articulating our same-ness so beautifully.

    ReplyDelete

Copyright (c)2009-2013. All rights reserved.