I am a victim of labels. The words that make or break a human being. I have been called many things in my life. I've been a hippie, I've been a loser, I've been morbid and creative. I've been called evil and wise and offensive and compassionate. I've been called an introvert and brave and stubborn. I've been told I'm beautiful, I've been told I'm ugly. My ability to love and care has been put in doubt, but then it has also been celebrated. My writing has been praised and my singing has been criticized. I am an entire catalogue of witty nicknames and misnomers.
They always say not to describe your child as anything but the best. Not to label your child or allow others to. Growing up, I was a very quiet kid. Everyone would say, "Ariel is shy. She needs to speak up. One day she'll come out of her shell." These people didn't know me. They didn't know I loved performing on stage and screaming at concerts and that one day I would be the only one willing to enter the rehearsal room and kick out the people who were staying too long. They didn't know I'd travel the world alone and make friends with Chinese people and Greek people and people from countries no one knew existed. They didn't know I would stand up when no one else could or would. Or fight for my rights, my desires, my beliefs.... Nonetheless, they told me who I was. They defined me for the rest of the world. Words like "shy" and "weird", or even "crazy" would stick with me for the rest of my life. They're the first words I would think of when asked to describe myself. They're the words I let others staple onto my forehead and treat me as.
To this day, I get anxiety being with people. Maybe it's not because of some sort of social fear, but because of a fear of being "shy" again. I was always told it was a bad trait, that I had to learn to be someone else. I had to act like I always had something to say and speak up. That lying back and only speaking when spoken to was wrong. The person I was born to be, the person I called "me" was bad. If that "me" showed up in social settings, I had reason to worry. I was condemned to speak or once again be the bad "me" that no one liked. That was what made me anxious, that is what I was running from.
I bet you, whoever you may be, are also a victim. Maybe you are the mental kid or the fat kid or the kid who enjoyed math class a little too much. Nerd. You heard it too many times. I know you have heard it too many times because just once is too many. It is easy for others to say, "You're not a kid anymore. No one has called you that in 10 years!" That doesn't mean the words didn't sting and leave a mark in your mind. People are a product of their experiences. Those words and names that we grew up with were how we created our identities. What else did we have? We needed something to base our self-opinion on. As soon as your mother beamed at you and shrieked, "He's a big boy, but he'll outgrow the baby fat." There. There it is. You are now the big boy who HAS to outgrow the baby fat. Who else could you be? What else is there? The words "Perfect as he is" aren't even on the table yet. When you find that baby fat doesn't magically melt away at 14 or 15 or even 16, now you have failed to be the person you were told you were. You were supposed to outgrow it. You didn't, and now... you're just the big boy who didn't get less fat. You're the big nose whose face didn't grow into it. You're the neuroscientist's kid who didn't catch onto science. You're the tall kid who didn't get perfect with practice. As a matter of fact, you didn't even learn to enjoy basketball. What a waste.
This is not a message that has not been expressed before a thousand times in a thousand different ways. Everyone nods and agrees and wishes they could stop the insults and the bullying and the self-loathing. It doesn't stop, though, it won't stop. Not until every mother and father learns how to speak to their child, not until every child learns to love themselves, not until humans can look at other humans and really care and want them to be happy. Not as happy as they are themselves or happy on the exterior or pessimistically happy, but humans need to deeply and so passionately that it hurts wish for other people to live lives full of beautiful, wonderful things. Maybe life won't be a dream, sweetheart, and of course it's stupid to live entirely on the phrase "it could be worse!", but the first step is believing and wanting such gaiety to exist in others' lives. There's no room for resentment or envy, there's only room for a hug and telling someone, and I quote 'Almost Famous', "It's all happening."
We are the deities of our destiny.