The other day I commented on Facebook complaining about being labeled a ‘senior’, by the comments I’m not the only one who hates being called old … which is what the label ‘senior’ implies. I taught my children than we DON’T label people and we don’t call names …. I always tried to see the child beyond their behaviors (very tough sometimes). I had learned early that being labeled changes how we see ourselves and that in turn affects how we interact with the world. When we label or classify people it affects how we see and react to them. A high school ‘guidance’ counselor ‘counseled’ me with her preconceived notions that as my folks weren’t college grads, maybe I should go to technical school or just get married instead of heading on to college, a B+ average wasn’t too stellar. I actually listened to her voice in my head for many years … but by then I had learned that I had no limitation other than those I put on myself. Ha! I proved her wrong … B.S. Education & Computer Science grad University of Utah. I even made the Dean’s List a couple of semesters which was cool because I was also raising 5 children as a single parent and working. Labeling and preconceptions harm …
When we label a person we no longer see them as an individual … we only view them through that narrow perception. Left, Right, Liar, Ethical, Racist, Religious, Liberal, Black, White, Conservative, Rich, Poor, Millennial, Boomer, Senior, etc.
I love the book People by Peter Spiers. His thoughtful insights can open closed perceptions and open closed hearts … it teaches compassion for differences, but much more importantly it offers how we are so very much alike. Different flowers in a garden only increases its beauty … by adding our individual uniqueness together we increase the beauty of the world, like colors in a kaleidoscope mix and turn while we ohhh and awe as they blend together in infinite combinations of light.
Back to my reaction to being labeled a ‘senior’ … I’ve thought a bit about that … it was an visceral reaction, I didn’t think I only reacted. I am NOT OLD. I am NOT a senior, I am NOT a granny! How dare you put me into THAT category? I’m not ready to be any where near being a senior (code for old). I like my personal labels: vibrant, active, investigative, creative, adventurous, hopeful, teachable, forward looking and gma. In my mind and heart gma has a much different picture than granny. Just so you know, I’m not joining the over 60 luncheon at the stake center next month … maybe, when I get “old”, you might see me there.
I challenge us all to drop the labels we’ve applied to others or to ourselves (who me?), open our minds and hearts toward one another, listen without judgement, ask questions without malice or preconception, and love our neighbors (as ourselves). It is true: what you think you are you become … hence labeling, categorizing, and classification are good to understand insects, birds, fish, and types of dirt, but not people. People are too wonderfully complex and unique.
As my little sister says, “have a blessed day”; and from me [wanderingkeri ] … I may be growing older but I am NEVER growing up!