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We Are NOT The Labels We Wear December 3, 2012

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Mindfulness, People.

Someone once politely accused me of Boomer Bashing for making a rather innocent and innocuous comment about the expectations of baby boomers in the US today.

Seriously? Boomer Bashing?

First, being a baby boomer is not a protected classification, for good reason . . . it’s a fictionalized label used for demographic profiling.

Gay bashing is politically incorrect. Boomer bashing is merely saying that you disagree with some of the people some of the time (since boomers make up half of the planet).

Second, I am in the demographic profile of baby boomer ~ why would I want to beat myself up?

Third, using labels to classify individuals based on their membership in such a large and diverse group of people is meaningless.

People have so many roles in life, associating oneself (or others) with any one label, while ignoring the rest, makes little sense.

Among other things, I am (or have been): writer, musician, painter, blogger, published author, yoga enthusiast, artist, grant writer, vegetarian, guitar player, songwriter, environmentalist, actress, attorney, editor, movie goer, baby boomer, pet owner, poet, activist, consumer . . . and the list goes on.

I am also an a-social, a-political, spiritual introvert, who is occasionally the life of the party. I have been both student and teacher, leader and follower, director and directed.

I have never been an Olympic gold medalist.

If someone dislikes vegetarians, or people who meditate, I need not get offended. If someone makes fun of writers, or bloggers, I can choose to take it in stride. If someone attacks spirituality, musicians, artists, or attorneys, I can laugh it off and let it go. 

“They” have not had the same experiences I have had, so why should they have the same beliefs that I do?

If someone pokes fun at aging baby boomers, or introverts, I can turn the other cheek without wasting a single second stuck in a quagmire of anger and resentment because:

(1) their opinion is just an opinion, which is neither right nor wrong; and

(2) I am all of these things, and none of these things.

The roles I have “played” have nothing to do with the totality of who I am at this moment ~ they are just labels, which do not define the essence of “me,” nor are they written on my forehead with indelible ink.

For that reason, when challenged, I can disassociate myself from any one, or all, of these roles, rather than being caught up in an automatic tidal wave of emotion designed to defend my ego from attack.

Cover of

Cover of I’m the One That I Want

Before a filmed presentation, I’m the One that I Want, Margaret Cho said she was not intimidated by the large crowd who had come to watch her perform in her hometown of San Francisco, just of two people in the audience.

Her parents. 

She knew they would not approve of everything she planned to say.

How did she face her fear?

She disassociated herself from her role as “daughter” long enough to do the show in her role as “stand up comedian.” 

She didn’t “stop” being a daughter.

Instead, she set that role aside for the duration of her act so that she could be who she wanted to be at that moment:

An entertainer focused on making people laugh.

You are not the car you drive. You are not the clothes you wear. And you are not the labels, especially demographic labels, which people choose to apply to you.

Unlike Hester, of Scarlet Letter fame, you can shrug off any and every label and just be who you are . . . a unique individual who defies classification based on one small aspect of their personality (past, present or future).

Trust me, when you no longer feel as if you are walking around with a bulls-eye on your forehead, life is infinitely easier.

Our infinite worth lies beyond all labels.

No Rules. Just Write!

Related posts: Attack of the Killer ANTs * Using Stereotypes to Your Advantage (My Literary Quest) * Res Ipsa Loquitur * Impressionism and Abstract Expressionism * Maintaining Perspective * Daily Prompt ~ Hindsight (Rewrite Your Very First Post) 


1. seeker57 - December 3, 2012

YOU are my kind … no labels here. write, write, write. No rules in this game. Hep, hep, Horray. You are the bestest!

nrhatch - December 3, 2012

Thanks, Seeker. Friends are like coaches, cheerleaders, and marching bands . . . all rolled into one! Hip Hip Hooray!

2. William D'Andrea - December 3, 2012

I just deal with everyone I meet as a unique individual. I don’t know how to deal with someone as a member of a group, and am not trying to influence they way he or she votes. I’m just trying to get along with each of them, as best I can.

nrhatch - December 3, 2012

Meeting people as they are, where they are, while seeing them for who they are, is wonderful. 😀

3. suzicate - December 3, 2012

I don’t like to be defined by labels.

nrhatch - December 3, 2012

Labels attempt to pigeon-hole and categorize people so that those with the “label makers” feel that they know what to expect.

And, then, when we don’t meet their expectations, they make inane comments like, “That isn’t like you.”

Sure it is . . . it’s just not like your expectations for me. 😉

Karen J - December 3, 2012

Great come-back line, Nancy! Another one for the sticky note farm on my monitor! :))

nrhatch - December 3, 2012

Thanks, Karen. I always get a kick out of someone else telling me that I’m not acting “like myself.”

Who else would I be . . . if not me?

4. William D'Andrea - December 3, 2012

The only time I’ve personally dealt with anything like this, is when I’ve gone traveling, and met people from different parts of the country, who have not met many people of Italian ancestry, like me. They’ve actually asked me what I know about the Mafia; assuming that all Italian-Americans are in someway involved with that criminal organization.
The only answer I can give is, “All I know about it, is what I see in the Movies and on TV Shows.”

nrhatch - December 3, 2012

Good answer. I’ve bumped up against stereotypes and prejudices in many aspects of life . . . people who judge people based on religion, politics, geography, nationality, choice of career, or even the kind of car they drive or music they listen to. 🙄

William D'Andrea - December 4, 2012

Last night I remembered another incident, which occured when I met my nephew’s first wife. We were discussing how the D’Andrea family is related to other branches of the family; how we are realted to the Dimuros, the Gatanos, and the Caputos.
My nephew’s wife said, “Those names make it sounds like they’re part of the Mafia.”
I called out to my sister, “Hey! We’ve got a Wasp in the family! A member of the Blonde Persuasion!”
After that, my nephew’s wife and I remained friends, and she didn’t make any more comments like that; at least not in my presence.

nrhatch - December 4, 2012

Those names DO sound like they’re part of the mafia. 😆

William D'Andrea - December 6, 2012

And Hatch does sound very Wasp.
I forgot to include the Verastro family. We are also related to the Goldmans and the Izners, along with the Smiths and the Burkhardts. Relationships like these are not what you’d find in the Mafia. However, they are not at all unusual here in the New York Metropolitan Area.

nrhatch - December 6, 2012

Well, actually, I’m more WASH than WASP . . . unless the “P” stands for “Pagan.” 😉

Karen J - December 6, 2012

Were you raised in a P-ish environment, or did you have to evolve yourself that way?

nrhatch - December 6, 2012

I evolved . . . away from organized religion and toward spiritual wisdom from a number of sources. It’s a better fit for me.

5. spilledinkguy - December 3, 2012

Sometimes I’m very surprised by the things people seem offended by (especially when there is obviously no malicious intent)… or NOT offended by (when it seems to me they probably should be).
But… I usually ‘don’t get it’ in general, so…

nrhatch - December 3, 2012

Good point, SIG. I feel the same way . . . some folks go out of their way to take offense even when none is intended.

I’m so glad that you and I don’t follow their lead. 😀

Karen J - December 3, 2012

Just as confounding is people who take offense for a group they don’t even belong to …

nrhatch - December 3, 2012

Some people are determined to walk around with a bulls eye in the middle of their chest . . . even if they have to place it there themselves.

6. kateshrewsday - December 3, 2012

Good news for me, Nancy. I drive a clapped out old Merc and live in a very small house. Love your snow.

nrhatch - December 3, 2012

It’s funny how BIG your house feels to me, Kate. Positively expansive due to all the LIVING it contains. 😀

7. ericjbaker - December 3, 2012

So what have you got against Olympic gold medalists?

Jeez, Hatch. You are sooooooo intolerant!


nrhatch - December 3, 2012

Hey! Who you calling intolerant!? Why I oughta . . . 😉

There is one possible sport in which I might still claim the gold . . . curling! Other than that, I’d have to be competing against myself, in a field of ONE, to capture an Olympic medal.

ericjbaker - December 3, 2012

Maybe you can pull a Tanya Harding and try to wipe out the field of competition.

I met her once, by the way, and she was very nice. I have a way with people I guess.

nrhatch - December 3, 2012

Even with NO competition, I wouldn’t make it once around the skating rink . . . unless I was sliding on my butt.

I am glad that Tanya treated you better than she did Nancy.

8. Tom (Aquatom1968) - December 3, 2012

I like the part of disassociating ourselves from the parts that don’t best serve us in the moment, Nancy. I’ll try this tomorrow! Great post!

nrhatch - December 3, 2012

Thanks, Tom. It’s a great exercise for sidestepping the line of fire . . . especially when we are just caught in the cross fire. 😀

9. bluebee - December 3, 2012

“You are not the car you drive. You are not the clothes you wear.” Amazing how many people don’t actually “get” that.

nrhatch - December 3, 2012

Ego is a silly rabbit . . . seeing all sorts of things as an extension of ITself (when IT doesn’t exist in the first place as other than a composite of self-image).

10. happyflowerwordzoo002 - December 3, 2012

Appreciate summary of how we inhabit a multiplicity of roles. Especially appreciate how detachment achieved rather than feeling attacked. Enjoyed the post.

nrhatch - December 3, 2012

Glad you enjoyed the post . . . resurrecting our first blog post seemed a worthwhile prompt.

11. cshowers - December 3, 2012

Amen 🙂

nrhatch - December 3, 2012

Thanks! 😀

12. Andra Watkins - December 3, 2012

Labels are for people who need to hide behind them, because they don’t know themselves well enough to stand on their own.

nrhatch - December 3, 2012

Good point, Andra. They may also feel that there is “safety in numbers” . . . so they don’t want to stand out from the crowd.

13. aawwa - December 3, 2012

Great post! It reminds me of a saying that assists me sometimes – “what other people think of me is none of my business!”

nrhatch - December 3, 2012

Yes! We cannot spend our day wisely if we are unduly concerned with the opinions of others.

That said, I do understand Cho’s concern about having her parents in the audience . . . and I admire her courage for proceeding in the face of that concern.

14. Barbara Backer-Gray - December 3, 2012

Amen to that!

nrhatch - December 3, 2012

Here’s to shrugging off labels that don’t advance the ball for us.

15. Perfecting Motherhood - December 4, 2012

I dream of a day where we embrace our differences…

nrhatch - December 4, 2012

The more comfortable we become with who we are, the less need we have for others to conform to a norm. Vive la difference!

16. Three Well Beings - December 4, 2012

I love what you shared about Margaret Cho! She’s just great. And I’ll remember her story at some time when I need it! I also like what Wayne Dyer says, “What you think of me is none of my business.” I think he attributes the statement to someone else, but I just love it. It doesn’t come as trippingly off my tongue as it does for some, but it’s a good one! I am really impressed with how well you’ve stated what we all need to remember, Nancy!

nrhatch - December 4, 2012

I love that Wayne Dyer quote (whoever said it first). I rarely say it to anyone out loud . . . but I often THINK it to myself when people are trying to tell me how to live MY life. 😀

17. wightrabbit - December 4, 2012

Loving your long list of all the things that you ‘are’, Nancy, I think I’ll write one myself, just for fun! When I worked with elders, I was fascinated and often surprised by their back stories and by the resilience of the human spirit, particularly in the face of extreme adversity. As Baby Boomers we have a wealth of experience ~ from the after~effects of the last World War (there was still food and clothing rationing in Britain in the 1950’s, when I was a child,) to the development of computer technology, which allows me to sit in my big yellow chair on The Isle of Wight and communicate with people all over the planet. I’ve had the time of my life! 😉

nrhatch - December 4, 2012

Oh, do! Make a list and check it twice ~ you’ll see that you’ve been naughty and nice!

It’s amazing how multi-faceted we each are. We are no one thing. You might also enjoy this exercise, Jacqueline:


18. sweetdaysundertheoaks - December 4, 2012

Being labeled has befuddled people since we retired. Even family. I love it. What we did or were before is no longer important and now we don’t care what label people want to stick on us.. 🙂 I like the retired label though!

nrhatch - December 4, 2012

I know, right! Especially when we are not any of the labels that people want to stick on us.

At the moment, we’re not retired, or semi-retired, or employed, or unemployed. We’re “between jobs.” 😉

19. Pocket Perspectives - December 4, 2012

“baby boomer bashing???….. good thing I’m so far away on my cloud that I haven’t noticed it! 😀

nrhatch - December 4, 2012

Hey, hey . . . you, you . . . get off of your cloud. 😀

20. jannatwrites - December 6, 2012

Labels are just a convenient way for people to put things in convenient ‘boxes’ for references. I don’t like labels because they are dangerously close to stereotypes, which can create division between people. To say a certain group of people behaves in a given way is such a broad statement. I think I’m supposed be Generation X, but I don’t know exactly what that means, so I just go by Janna 😆

nrhatch - December 6, 2012

I think Generation X = people who don’t want to be put in a convenient box with a stereotyped label attached. 😉

Going by Janna is a good way to go.

jannatwrites - December 6, 2012

Hey, maybe I AM Generation X…I’d better go have T-shirt printed so the world knows who I am!

21. I Am NOT A Bottle of Wine | Spirit Lights The Way - June 8, 2013

[…] Once we realize we are NOT the labels we wear, we see who we really […]

22. Who Are You . . . REALLY? | Spirit Lights The Way - December 5, 2013

[…] We are NOT the labels we wear. […]

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