I recently had an epiphany that took me a little by surprise.
For a really long time, I have been defining myself...
In little ways and big ways...
Based off of a culmination of what I thought others thought of me...
Turns out, some of these labels are well past their expiration dates and not from credible sources... just sayin'
Truth be told, this independent, successful woman felt just a tad bit foolish when I came to this realization...
Since coming to this understanding--like an onion--I have begun peeling back the layers of these labels and discovered that in some ways I haven't known myself for years... I had been set on auto-pilot without really knowing it.
No wonder I hated social interactions... it is hard to be on auto pilot when you aren't sure whether you were a plane, train or automobile.
Now, from a professional standpoint I have identified with my labels and embraced them for the most part. Hardworking, resourceful, "go-to gal", dependable, communicator, facilitator, etc.
There were a few areas professionally where I discovered I had let some uncredible sources box me in...
I remember talking to a friend one day about starting my own business. About how I was thinking about going back into writing but I wasn't sure if I was going to be any good at it.
Her jaw dropped. "Umm... You are a writer."
She assumed that since I had been writing pretty much my entire life, was on the newspaper and yearbook in high school, excelled in my writing courses and worked for the newspaper all through college... Since I wrote daily on my blog and for other people my entire professional career-- including my time as a Marketing Director and later a Communications and Outreach Director-- that I had confidence in my writing...
Didn't she know that Person X used to mark up my work with a red marker until the page bled and embarrassed me constantly in front of my peers? Or that Person Y used to tell everyone that I was incompetent behind my back.
Now, would I have trusted either Person X or Y to give me an assessment of skill sets on anyone else?
For a myriad of reasons, I knew enough not to trust their judgement of others--yet I let them inside my head to plant a seed of doubt about something that turns out to be a vital part of my professional and personal life.
Why on earth have I just been handing the keys of my life over to other people all these years? And, in some cases, to people I would have never trusted with anything or anyone else.
As I have been peeling back this onion, I have discovered so many of the labels that I have let determine my social and spiritual struggles should have expired years ago... or even worse... shouldn't have been allowed to be planted at all.
"It is not what name others call you that matters, but what name you respond to that truly determines who you are." - Swahili Proverb
Have you been answering to names that aren't you?
Have you allowed others--knowingly or not--plant labels on you that have expired?