Are We Who We think We Are?
Name whatever it is you can think of, a label is definitely attached to it! When we buy stuff, be it bottled water, a designer bag, or even our favorite snack, we identify it by its label. Perhaps it is for our own convenience or that of the seller. But then, it’s not only the stuff we buy that carries labels, humans, whether we admit it right now or not, have labels on us. The difference however is that our labels are not physical.
Now it must seem puzzling to think of how a non-physical label would look. Oh! It’s not even seeable! Add baffling to the list. Well, let’s take this approach, we all have identities, don’t we? Our names, who, and what we stand for. Labels are a lot different…
When we are born, we are given our own names and it seems as if our actions and life’s journey are in our hands, left only to us to sculpt. Yet, from that moment on, we are “somebody’s son” and “somebody’s daughter” to the world around us. As free as we might think we are to do things our way, we are expected to fulfill certain standards simply because we are the bloodline of a certain someone. That is our very first label as humans. As a student, you’re not just George, you’re ‘George, the physics teacher’s son, and without question, you’re expected, if not to ace physics, at least to be one of the best in physics. Maybe calculations are not your forte? But your dad is a guru in physics! So most people do not care to listen to your excuse, it already sounds flimsy before they hear it.
Does that sound bad? I guess you’re thinking it is. Imagine a situation where a series of events take place leading to you almost acting out only to be saved in time by the all too familiar clause- “remember the child of whom you are”. Does it still sound bad? Labels can help us make wise decisions too.
In whatever society we find ourselves, a label is put on us, we’re somebody’s child, friend, spouse, sibling, colleague, boss, or neighbor. Sometimes, we do not care about names, Daniel’s brother is enough, twins are just each other’s sister! For all we know, you might just be the boss’s minion. Every now and then, the kind of treatment we get is influenced by our tags. The bricklayer’s son gets punished while the chancellor’s son goes scot-free. My mum was once denied help because she was the deputy bursar’s wife and she has her husband’s money to spend! Now as individuals, we often get very deep into character that we lose our identities. We pattern our lives to fit into the role of our labels and forget who we are. Because I’m a friend to a rich man’s daughter, I start to spend half of my money on exquisite and expensive dresses or because I’m married to Mr. A, I ask myself if I’m doing well, not as me but as Mr. A’s wife alone. Some people don’t even know who they are till they die. All of their life was spent as someone’s son, brother, husband, and father. No, you should not shy away from your duties, or refrain from doing what you are expected to do as a father, just take some moments to breathe for yourself. Serve your parents as their child but don’t get all of your time stolen trying to please them, look inward and bloom. It would do your parents a lot of good too. Don’t just cook and clean all day, or go to work and get your salary only to spend it all on your kids, grow as a person too. Those people you are living for will appreciate you.
Let’s do something nice for ourselves! Rip off the labels!
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About the writer: Bamisaye Taiwo is currently a student of Microbiology in Nigeria. She’s passionate about letting people know they’re much more than they think. A nonfiction rising freelance writer who believes in authenticity.