I would have to say that one of the hardest things in dealing with recovery is understanding that you are not a label. Labels seem to be so frightening, but also, sometimes “calming”. All through high school I had many labels – I was categorized into several groups: cheerleader, field hockey player, runner, honors student, dancer, and color guard. Those labels defined me and they helped me make decisions in my life. In college – I was categorized as a field hockey player. It’s how I spent most of my time!
Now, I have some labels and it’s hard to NOT let them define me. One label that I don’t want to define me is the eating disorder label. I know that we often try to make one another feel better about labels and say that we are more than our eating disorder. The problem is, it becomes so much of what you’re doing every day that it is hard to separate yourself from it. There is also something that seems so terrible about the label of an eating disorder. It’s something that I don’t want people to know about me for the fear that they will define me by it. I no longer fit in the role of anorexia, because I see myself in recovery instead.
The next label I can’t say I’m a fan of is having a “psychologist”. To me, psychologist sounds like psycho. But really, what does the word mean? It means that the person I work with is smarter than a general “therapist” because she went through the terrible process of obtaining her Ph.D.
So, technically, this “psychologist” label should be something positive, right? Nope… not there yet. Still need some time. 🙂 I’ll call her that, but I don’t like it. 🙂 (obviously I’m still working on labels here).
Negative labels get you nowhere. The only place they take you is farther away from who you are. They force you into particular roles and behaviors. We are all diverse. Sure, I wear many hats in my life, but wearing a hat means I can take it off. I put on my teacher hat, and take it off as I get home. I put on my runner hat and take it off after I’m finished exercising.
We are not labels, because a label means we have to fit into that role – sometimes what feels nearly perfectly. I don’t fit into any one role perfectly, which is the great part of it all. I have friends who are runners, teachers, field hockey players, and even ones who don’t work out. It’s just a hat we wear… and that we take off.
So what defines me? What defines many of us? Technically, I’m still learning that, but I think it falls into many qualities. (“Qualities” being the key word that I’ve learned from my psychologist).
So, as I’m trying to make a definition of myself I have to take into consideration many of my qualities – whether I believe them or not:
– I’m intelligent
– I’m understanding
– I’m funny
– I’m sporadic
– I’m altruistic
– I’m loving
– I’m stubborn
– I’m a fighter
An eating disorder is not a quality, therefore it can’t define me. Instead, I have to constantly remind myself of the many qualities that I do possess and make an attempt to forget about the label. (Still working on that one)
Why is this (noting your own qualities) so hard to do? My quick definition is because sometimes we are too humble. I’m not saying we should run around and make others feel bad compared to our qualities, but dismissing any of our qualities because we feel like we are boasting, serves no purpose in the world. One of my favorite quotes that I read regularly:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.’ We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. – Mariann Williamson
One of my favorite parts of this quote is:
“We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Everyone has many qualities and also amazing qualities. My qualities may not be the same as yours. I know one quality I’m learning is patience…. (news flash – that’s a hard one!). Either way, if I hide my qualities and become “too humble” I’m not serving this world any purpose. If I can embrace myself in a positive way, I can learn a definition of who I am without external labels.