Don’t define me by my gender. Don’t define me by my age…my sexual orientation…my religion…my work…hang on, hang on, where is this taking me?
When we identify ourselves with a particular group, we are then identified with their views and outlooks. Which means that even if we hold some opinions that differ from the mainstream of that group, others will still assume that our views are the same as that mainstream.
This may mean that outsiders think we hold views that they are bound to disagree with, because of their perception of that group, whilst members within the group will often expect us to hold the same views as they do. Thus, we risk being shunned by those outside the group for views that we might not hold, or being regarded as heretical by members of that group who suspect that we do not hold these views as firmly as they would like.
Oh my goodness.
We might like to think that we are freethinkers, but as soon as we allow a label to be attached to us, we begin to voluntarily put boundaries on our own thoughts.
Don’t label me!
Don’t label me!
In Steppenwolf, by Hermann Hesse, the narrator comes to realise that his character is not simply that of an educated, cultured man, which is how he has always thought of himself, but is made up also of hundreds or even thousands of other personas; the wild and bloodthirsty wolf of the steppes, that gives the book its title, the philanderer, the ascetic, the drunkard, the heretic, the hero and the coward, each one, to a greater or lesser degree, is a component of his nature, and he has to learn to accept all of these different parts of what he is if he is to become a complete person.
The trick to life is learning to accept that we are complex creatures, so much more than just a label, and to be kind to all of our many selves.
The only label, therefore, that I should allow to be attached to me, simply says ‘Me’.