on labels and identity

I am an introvert. I am an atheist. These are labels I've assigned to myself based on my beliefs, my philosophies, and what I identify with.

Labels are useful and necessary. They are part of our identity, and how we sometimes find community. It helps us find commonalities and explore things together.

Hi. Hello there. Yo.
Photo by Allie / Unsplash

In many cases, it has helped me continue understanding myself. In high school and college, I detested going to night clubs but that was what kids my age did. It ranks amongst the most boring things I have subjected myself to multiple times, along with college. I realised that as an introvert, I did not derive energy from those settings and they actually sucked my energy away. I prefer calmer gatherings where I can connect with someone, and also enough alone-time so I can replenish myself. It took me a while to put this together, and it actually took me getting out of my environment to get around to doing this.

not black or white

In fact, once I understood this about myself, I started to enjoy going out to pubs and such. Because it required me to be in a different mind-space to enjoy it.

I realised that while I identify with a label, it does not mean that I am supposed to be in that bucket at all times. It does not mean "Sorry, I don't come to night clubs because I am an introvert". But "Sorry, I don't want to come out tonight as I don't feel like it". I might and do feel like it later, and that makes it enjoyable.

Using a label to define myself seems to be losing the point. It is never black or white. On a line from introvert to extrovert, we fall on it somewhere. And depending on how we are feeling today, how much we've fed the introvert in us or the extrovert in us - that's how I will react to something today. It is important to course-correct, and most times, I do it naturally. If I have done too many social things, I will shut myself off for a day or two. Spend a lot of time reading, and away from social media. And I feel myself again.

Contact Festival | Marshmello | BC Place, Vancouver, Canada | 2017
Photo by Aditya Chinchure / Unsplash

Being aware of all of this has made my experiences better, and those of my friends' as well. For example, when I went on a vacation with my school buddies (lot of night clubs, lot of drinking), being mentally prepared for it and taking a vacation after that vacation made it enjoyable and allowed me to not be a twat.

Being introverted does not mean I do not like anything on the extroverted side. It simply means that I have a preference.

on limiting our capabilities

It is a preference. Not a limiter.

What that means is that does not mean I will never go out drinking in a large crowd, and not have fun. It does not mean I will never go to a place of worship, or be able to have a conversation with someone who is not on the same belief system as me.

That would limit my capacity. And that's not the point of a label, I think.

By understanding what your preferences are, you can be a smarter and better person. And the greatest learnings come when we step out of our comfort zone, and as trivial as it might sound, learning what it required from me to enjoy going out to a club with my friends has made me smarter and a better person.

Because it has helped me step beyond other places where I was using labels as a mechanism to box me in.

your turn

What labels do you identify with?

How does it help you understand yourself better?

Where do you let that box you into something?

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