Ever felt like you’re a square peg trying to fit into a round hole?
My whole life I have been that square peg but it’s only just become apparent that the round hole I was trying to fit in was everyone else’s idea of what the round hole should be.
I’ve also found that people put labels on these round holes and once you were given this ‘label’ then that was you. Forever. You also need to comply with said label and also behave in a way society believed the round hole should behave.
Does that make sense?
From this bred an inner conflict between my conditioning from childhood, my true sense of being and a conformity to society.
I’ve gone through life feeling as though I needed to prove myself. That I needed to prove to others that I am not the label they have given me.
Why? Because I knew I wasn’t that person they thought I was and I wanted to rid myself of any shame I felt by being labelled as such.
I think putting a label on someone is psychologically damaging and restrictive.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes discovering you are ‘something’ can be a relief but there’s a difference between knowing you suffer from something and being defined by it.
I’m not talking the simple things like ‘I am a woman’ or ‘I am a Geordie’. I am these things. Let me explain by giving some prominent examples from my personal experiences;
My 1st Label: Teenage Mother.
My 1st real experience of being judged and made to feel cast-out by society was when I became pregnant at 16.
I was thrown out of school as I was deemed incapable of completing my exams. I was snubbed by family friends and personal friends of mine.
I was told I was a disgrace and felt real deep shame.
I couldn’t be a teenage mother and achieve anything. I worked hard to prove them wrong.
21 years later, sat here writing this I still feel the shame and embarrassment.
My 2nd Label: Crazy
After having my son I was to develop a severe case of Post Natal Depression but believe it or not this was not to be diagnosed until a massive 10 years later.
You see, at the time I was ‘too young’ to be suffering from anything like that but people were easy to label me as ‘crazy’
As this was dismissed by those close to me and medical professionals at the time I suffered in silence but in doing so led nicely into Label No.4 (below)
My 3rd Label: Girl in IT
For those of you that know me personally will know that I have dark hair. My natural colour is blonde.
Starting a job in IT in the mid-nineties meant that it was still very male-dominated and being a young, blonde female meant I was massively out of place and was open to some awful experiences.
Being chatty meant I was flirting. Being single, young and blonde meant I was easy.
I endured being groped, indecent comments I had to just laugh off and more seriously a sexual assault whilst on a contract in 1999.
I was told that if I reported it then I would never work in IT again. Being young and naive I went along with it. However I did dye my hair black and start to wear wedding rings and surprisingly attitudes did change somewhat.
It didn’t stop comments such as “Can I speak to a proper engineer” “Run along and make the tea, be a good girl” to list just the tip of the iceberg.
Just before I left my career in IT last year after 15 years, being a woman in IT hadn’t really moved on much.
We still have to work hard and feel as though we need to prove ourselves. I think it’s safe to say we all have bruises from banging our heads on that glass ceiling.
My 4th Label: Alcoholic/Addict
By my mid-twenties I had completely lost myself. I really didn’t know who or what I was or should be anymore.
I had untreated depression which was spiralling at a rate of knots and was desperate to just feel better.
I discovered alcohol and the party scene.
The combination of the two was ultimately devastating which meant in 2009 I entered Recovery and complete abstinence of all alcohol and drugs.
I was now labelled an alcoholic and/or an addict.
“My name is Anna and I’m a…….”
I have no problem in saying that I have issues around substances and have achieved long-term abstinence but I soon came to realise that having this label had so many restrictions along with it.
I was once talking at a 12-step meeting about an issue I had experienced with another person, only to be told “You’re an alcoholic, you’ve done wrong in the past’. Meaning, in short, that I deserved it.
So now I’m labelled, I deserve people acting terribly towards me not to mention the judgment placed upon me from society!
This did get me thinking that if we repeatedly state that we are something, it not only psychologically restricts us but keeps us stuck in a place from the past. It defines us, it defines who we are, all of our being.
I am not just that part of my life. I am so much more. I certainly do not disregard it or refuse to acknowledge the severity of it. I use it as a spring-board to a different stage in my life.
My 5th Label: Sober
So, I was partying too hard and now I’m sober.
I’m now boring, people are wary of me and I often don’t get invited to things because of this label!
My drinking wasn’t good and neither is being sober.
F*ck you society. F*ck you!!!
I am not these labels.
These labels were difficult points in my life which have shaped me. I now try to embrace them but after a lifetime of feeling shame, embarrassment and hiding away, this isn’t an easy task.
If we can all just take a moment and think before we judge (and yes I am guilty of this too) then we can all work together in helping people come out the shadows, stand tall and be happy being themselves.