I'm long overdue for a post about Labels. I said I'd wanted to write one, and here it is.
Most of my life I was labeled -- sweet, generous, helpful, insighful, analytical, musical...and then there were those that weren't as nice: teacher's pet, browner, nerd, scaredy-cat...
Most kids learn to live with labels; some learn better with them, others are stifled in their personal growth because of these labels.
I've learned that most people do not like labels--labels often mark them as "different," or "odd" or "out of the norm". But sometimes labels help -- they provide some kind of identity, some kind of crutch.
When I was about 27 and having in-depth discussions about personal religious observances, etc., someone said, "Oh...so you're Conservadox." I asked for clarification and then was thrilled. My beliefs finally had a name! I wasn't teeter-tottering between levels of observance anymore; I was finally called something, and something relatively appropriate for me, for my family. It was no longer I, but WE, who were rightfully called Conservadox.
These days I dislike labels again...they're confusing, there are too many and most people hate to classify themselves. From time to time I go on JDate and Frumster.com to see if people I know who are single are advertising to meet people of the opposite sex. I am amazed by the divisions that you can fall into. Not only am I amazed, but I'm more than thankful that I'm not single, that I don't have to go this route and start classifying myself.
Frumster.com wants you to indicate your "Outlook." They have one header: Jewish. Under that is Traditional, Traditional & Growing, Conservative, Conservadox, Reform, Other. (What classifies "Other," I wonder.) There's a second header: Jewish Orthodox. Under that we've got Modern Orthodox Liberal, Modern Orthodox Machmir, Yeshivish Modern, Yeshivish Black Hat, Hassidish, Carlebachian (what, pray tell, does this mean...that you can carry a beatiful tune and lose yourself during the prayer service within the music...?) and Shomer Mitzvot.
G-d forbid a Modern Orthodox Liberal should contact a Yeshivish Black Hat... Perhaps never the twain shall meet. Is that the intent of these classifications for Frumster.com?
If being labeled is within my capacity, I'm usually labeled for something positive. I self-label myself mainly for those nasty negative traits: eg. I'm a procrastinator, I'm disorganized, etc.
Right now I'm labeling myself really tired, so I'll stop here. But let me ask this: Have you ever been knowingly labeled in your lifetime? Has it been beneficial for you in any way ora less-than-positive experience?
I thank you in advance for any comments.