Why You Shouldn’t Let People Label You

Take a moment to think about the categories which you label people by inside your own mind. There are the people who are good at art, the ones who are good at public speaking, and the ones who are business savvy. Putting these labels on others aids our day-to-day lives, giving us a list of people to go to when we need help or services in specific domains. It allows us to seek advice from the right people and serves as a referral tool for when we need to provide a recommendation.

There are various benefits in labeling and categorizing others in life, however, being labelled yourself can come with its own negative aspects. You should be sensitive to what others are labeling you as in life because you can feel the effects of that label far into the future. They can set you up for failure, and can ruin first impressions. These labels can put up a barrier against opportunities which catch your interest but do not match with what others perceive you as. This is one reason why changing careers is difficult to pull off. Breaking down the walls of your labels is more difficult than establishing them in the first place.

Stuck in a Label

One of the major risks in being labelled as skilled in a particular aspect of life is that you are not able to control when that label is valid and when it is dormant. This lack of control means you cannot willingly put a stop to being identified as something you don’t want to be identified as. You may have experienced this with childhood stories which your parents used to tell, and may have been stuck being known as an exuberant belly dancer because of a few childhood stories.

At work, you can be labelled as the person who is a sociable leader because of your ability to steer meetings in a positive and productive direction. This label, like many others, often stems from positive intentions from the ones who label you. However, you must now be prepared to play the role of the sociable leader when everyone else fears to do so. When times are tough, your labels can morph into curses as people desperately look for others to fix issues around them. The labels which you once thought of as harmless compliments now force you to play a role with massive expectations attached.

The labels placed on you can not only be stuck with you, but they can set you up for failure. A label can manifest itself into false expectations, thereby not making you deliver on the promises that others expect.

The Unknown Potential

Say you decide to have a cigarette on your lunch break one day. Smoking is seen as an unhealthy and somewhat dirty habit by some, if not the majority. While having your peaceful moment, someone from the office recognizes you and comes up. “I didn’t know you smoked,” they say. This label which has been established in the mind of your colleague is inherently neither positive nor negative. However, the preconceived notions of those who hear about it can turn this label into whatever suits them best.

If a cute girl in the office also smokes and hears about your smoking habit, she may ask you if you’d like to have lunch sometime and converse over a smoke. This is your label manifesting itself in a positive way. However, if your manager’s father died of lung cancer from years of smoking and caused tremendous grief, they may view your habit in a different light.

You cannot control how others perceive the labels put on you, and thereby sometimes putting your fate to chance. It is best to not strive to be labelled as anything in life, no matter how positive you perceive it to be. Truth in human minds is more subjective than we like to believe, and your labels may be true in their negativity in the mind of another.

Book Recommendation:

Pattern Recognition and Machine Learning (Information Science and Statistics)



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