In the world today, there are more and more labels that have been created and are becoming more frequently used to describe the differences between people.
I find it interesting.
In a time when people are wanting to be recognized for who and what they believe in, more and more labels are being used to differentiate groups of people with similar attributes.
Since the 1930’s sociologists have been studying and recording Labels and the effects they have on people and the relationship of labels with criminal behavior. The labeling theory is a fantastic subject and if you wanted to spend about 2843 hours reading you might get through about half of the information that has been collected.
What I find interesting is how it has related to my life and my self worth.
I am a red head. Not that it’s really anything different, but I am in a group that is less than 2% of the world population. I also have blue eyes. Only 17% of the worlds population have blue eyes. What I am getting at, because both recessive genes are present in my body, I am a part of less than 1 % of the world’s population. These traits have some really odd internal oddities but stem from different recessive genes. The point is, you don’t see very many people like me around. It makes me stand out.
There are some other non genetic traits I express that also make me stand out. I am loud. I am a loud partially because genetics gave my mother inner ear issues, she was deaf in one ear. Not only did I grow up in a house with someone who didn’t hear well, but I have the same trait in the same ear no less that progresses as I age, which I am doing oddly enough. When you can’t hear well, it’s always funny, but it also wears on you after years of compensating. One of those compensations is I talk very loudly.
I am very outgoing and outwardly friendly, this is also a rare trait, especially where I grew up. Even if you are apart of the majority (which I was not), people are closed off and look down a lot. It took great effort (being a loud, outgoing, blue eyed red head helped a bit) to gain eye contact with a stranger. I’ve mastered the technique but it took awhile.
My point of all of this is that I never felt different. I was born, I am what I am, my genetics and environment helped to shape me just like everyone else’s help shape them. I never felt isolated, maybe because I always had attention and I assumed everyone else did too. But we grow older, we learn, we become aware of things that isolate us from others. I thought it was cool to stand out (I still do). Because of my unique situation, I believe it assisted in my level of acceptance. Not only did I not feel isolated, it gave me a powerful gift of acceptance. I never looked at someone else and felt the need to label them as anything really. I am someone people notice, because of this, it made it easier to make a connection, eye contact, have a conversation and people just open up to me, so I could see connections everywhere with everyone, and it was mostly the good stuff.
What I didn’t realize until I was much older is that others didn’t have the same advantage in the area of connections as I did. It isn’t a natural thing for everyone. But I also learned, that even though I never took much heed to the labels placed on me consciously, sub consciously a constant journal was being added to. Not one that I visited often, but it was there.
Common negative (or not so positive and neutral) labels placed on me from others: Fire crotch (more common than you could imagine), Ginger, Crazy Ginger, Carrot top, Satan, Devils aid, Devils right arm, Satan’s girlfriend, copper top, Angry Ginger.
Like I said before I was gifted uniqueness. So I may have a longer list of Positive Labels if not more unique. I’ll get to those in a bit.
Recently I had my pictures taken by a professional photographer. We talked about why I was having a professional take pictures at this time in my life. The answer seemed simple at first, commercial purposes for my business and I was transitioning from 1 chapter of my life into the next, I wanted to see and feel what others see in me. The reason I chose this particular photographer is the same reason I choose most new connections in my life. Gut feelings. A sense that he was in transition also and dealing with someone that has had loss and trying to find the open doors ahead is the perfect kind of person to see me. As open and honest as I am, I am the same as everyone when it comes to outside perspectives and intuitions. I wanted to know what I may have to work o as a human being and sometimes seeing a reflection of what others see is the best way to do so, of course I choose a modality that is private. A little “not so secret” fact about me: I get goofy as hell in front of cameras, this I found out is one area that I’m not alone in. But as I try to act natural, I tend to completely spat out or get all balled up. As yin is to yang, the more open and accepting one becomes, the more we have to swing the other way into the darkness to find quiet and discover more and more of self. I was doing it for me.
At a point during the shoot, I opened up about my insecurities, mostly having to do with my scars. I have a lot. And although I love my scars and have always supported the idea of their role in making me the person I am today, I realized I still tried to down play where they came from. Specifically the ones that were a result of Cancer.
I’ve written before about my mother and her passing from complications of Breast cancer, I haven’t every written about mine. Cancer hasn’t ever really scared me, mostly because of the knowledge in chemistry and physiology that I have. One would think it would make me more afraid, but here is another area in which I differ from most. I also have an ephemeral view of life and death that is beautiful.
As a matter of fact, because of the timing, 3 months after mom passed, I didn’t openly talk about the chemotherapy and radiation while I was going through it. I had been through topical chemotherapy every year for the previous 7 years since the discovery of the 1st dangerous cancer cluster that I experienced. Everything previous to this was pre cancers, maybe the random basil or squamous carcinomas. It wasn’t until my dad and other family members started noticing the changes in my body that I shared, and I down played it the best I could so that my Dad didn’t have the extra stress of my health shortly after mom passed. I even joked about the fact that with my struggle with body weight most of my life, that it would of course be a treatment where the average weight gain is around 50 pounds… yeah, I get that one. How weird. How strange, that I should see and accept so much about her life and death, see the beauty in it and tuck my own away. How strange a family as close as mine, that I would shut them out. Thinking I was doing them a favor, when in reality, I stole the opportunity from them to help me and support me.
Because of my treatment of the situation, it also alienated me from my husband. Why should I expect his support if I keep pretending that all was rosy and sunny and the fact that I felt like total shit and could envision the destruction of cells and life in my body and my already genetically weak bones in my body were going to have a battle ahead just to get back to the strength they were at that point in life let alone the strength I envisioned occurring and achieving, once again, in my life. Oh, I did that. My background and studies allowed me to visually and mentally see what was happening inside. To avoid the negative reactions to mental and emotional stress, I turned to meditation and the dedication to working out as often as I could during treatment. Not just for the positive vibes I needed to get through, but in violent opposition to the expected weight gain. Another reaction to labels, this one I placed on myself. My sub conscious was really into self defamation and isolation at this time.
So what happened with the photographer, after he had left to work on the edits ( I was sure he had a lot of work to do considering the subject)? I was paying for the session, never really considered he would want to or should post my private pictures on his Instagram, but he did. It was a little surprising, however, I didn’t mind a bit. The picture he posted was haunting but what really go me thinking was what he said about the post. He labeled me a cancer survivor.
Never once since my mother passed and I went through my more intense treatment and continue the topical treatments yearly, did I ever think of myself as a cancer survivor. How odd. A Label that most survivors are proud to wear, I never considered it anything, this brings into play the neutral label for me. The deep phycological relationship of this chapter of my life to where I am now is a story for another day, because this week, what it really did for me was to revisit a study I had read years ago.
The Labeling Theory.
It is related to the concepts of self-fulfilling prophecy and stereotyping (Wiki). The original study began in the 1930’s. It was about stereotypes and labels that cause deviant (at this time anything illegal) behaviors. The study I read in Sociology was from Hammersmith, S.K.; Weinberg, M. (1973) related to homosexuality and Gove, Walter R, (1975). Labeling of Deviance: Evaluating a Perspective. Who knew, me and all of my awareness started way back when. Ah, a deeper connection to retaining knowledge and ripping it out of the grave when needed for further movement forward.
This in no way will start a habit of me classifyiutng myself as a cancer survivor. Just as I don’t classify myself as a bitch or clumsy or fire crotch. It isn’t because I am not these things, I am indeed all of those. Maybe not the fucking bitch, or the stupid idiot or disillusioned bitch that someone recently over the last few years of hating me had resorted to calling me, but still, it’s a label.
Here’s my point, kind of (I’m sure you are grateful that I have finally reached it). I don’t rely on labels and classifications to play much of a role in my life. I can choose to listen to the voices or not. I can’t pick and choose what my sub conscious records, it records literally, visually, audibly and emotionally everything (a completely separate 10,000 word rant for another day).
What I can do is make a decision to express positively towards others and towards myself. There are cases where I express shit. Shit I really don’t want to reflect on someone, but there it is. It happens, but if I can consciously try not to label others, than I can more effectively restrict the negative reflection of my sub conscious. Take heed of the words but give no weight to them. I can stay in touch and reorganize and realistically accept others perspectives. Listen, but not always act. Hear, but create my own belief and sometimes the truth hurts. Sometimes those negative words hurt because they are true. How much better to consciously choose to hear truth without sub consciously acting out and ignoring the work I have to do, but also opting out of all labels, hear, see perspectives, find reality and move forward.
So, another veil removed from my self that I can effectively make a decision to incorporate into my daily life. I don’t want to be considered a cancer survivor, maybe a survivor, but I can’t go out and press my perspective on everyone else. I will not always allow my sub conscious to hide their perspective of me. I will listen, respect and then accept and move on.
I believe that the world is full of labels, I don’t experience them often, but can’t deny the effect they have on so many. So many people want to be different and society makes labels and squares they to fit in rounds and octagons try to fit in triangles because they have things in common… but what I’d like to think is that the common threads bind us together, but they don’t try to define us individually.
I could go on trying to explain myself for pages, or unravel the end of my rant, but instead? I’ll leave it at that for now. A lot left unsaid, but something to think about.
In La Kesh