I dread that question — the question that leaves you with a label. The question that for whatever reason leaves the questioner sizing you up in a way that misses the essence of who you are. You know that question?
My Identity is on the line. The chore of taking someone day by day through years, experiences, moments of triumph and agonies of defeat in order to understand that label doesn’t fit me feels too daunting. So I don’t. I don’t make myself known. I don’t choose to step in. I don’t work at real relationship. I leave the label in tact and find myself unknown.
Our choice to accept the disconnect often feeds more disconnect. Humans long for connection. Connection is at the center of our design. When you actually see me — no assumptions, no accusations, no misunderstandings — it’s invigorating, energizing, confirming. It’s not difficult to confirm each other’s worth but for some reason we’re not in that habit.
Labels are quicker, easier, save us time and allow us to put people in nice, neat categories. You probably recognize that you don’t fit in a nice, neat category. Neither does anyone else.
Last week, I sat around the table with some friends who purposely took some time to affirm a comrade. We highlighted qualities and characteristics in her that impacted us — not because she was in a bad place and needed encouragement, not because she was feeling fragile and we wanted to prop her up, not because she was focused on her weaknesses and we wanted to promote her strengths — just because. Being at the table, affirming a friend took all of us to a new level of connection, even though only one of us was being affirmed. Looking for the strengths, the positive impact, the value another person brings and verbalizing it to them elevates everyone.
As change-makers, let’s stop letting the labels stick and start looking for the value every person we meet brings to the table. What would that look like for you? What are the tangible steps you could take this week to turn the tables?