They’re a handy way to categorize the things and people in our lives. They’re even a handy way to help us understand ourselves. For instance, I can say with confidence that I am a woman, a wife, a professor, a counselor, a dog-owner, and a butter-on-my-popcorn-please type of movie goer.
However, it can be painful when a label that used to be true is now absent from our lives: I am no longer a student, I am no longer a Hoosier resident, I am no longer a full time employee, I am no longer an active duty military member, etc.
What labels do you use in your life to describe yourself? What labels do you hear other people using to describe you?
I’m talking about this today because yesterday I posted about being “Right or Left Brained” and I realized that I have been denying a part of myself by clinging to/claiming the label of “I am Left Brained – I am logical, rational, word-focused, etc.”
I think the first time I took a version of the right/left brain test was when I was in high school. The test told me I was “left brained.” In high school I was a bundle of emotions (weren’t we all?). However, I felt so run by my emotions that it was validating that a test might say that I was, in fact, a person whose brain favored logic and reasoning.
What I didn’t realize is that the flip side of saying, “I am left brained” is that I was inadvertantly saying “I am not right brained.” I was telling myself, “Megan, you are not a creative person.”
Interestingly, when I take both of the tests that I provided links to yesterday, I come out more right brained than left brained or 50/50. What?!? I’ve been priding myself on my logic and reasoning skills–my left brained-ness–and now all the tests are saying I am, in fact, “right brained” or no more “right brained” than “left brained”!
This truly caught me off-guard. It was like a mini earthquake in my world. To use another analogy/image, it was like the idea that I could be creative derailed the train in my head which goes to each station collecting “passengers” to confirm the labels that I give myself. The train was pulling into the “quiz” station, waiting for the quiz to say “left brained”. Then when the quiz gave a different answer the train tried to switch tracks to go to the “right brained” station and, instead, the train fell off the track altogether.
Something I am working on is saying to myself, “Megan, you are a creative person.” For reasons I am still determining, I have a very difficult time accepting this label. It is almost as though the label is something I had decided at some point was unachievable for me. Therefore, to claim the reality of the label now is … difficult, awesome, liberating and scary.
If we use the “brain” label as a representation of all other labels, a beautiful thing emerges: no one is entirely right brained or left brained. Even those who have had surgery to remove one hemisphere or who developmentally don’t have one, their brain adapts and they find ways to be both creative and logical. Our labels will never fully define us. I may no longer live in the Hoosier state, for example, but I will always be a Hoosier.
So I ask you this today: What labels are you focusing on in your life? What labels may be holding you back from becoming the person you want to be?