Embracing Your Label

Every person you know has one recognizable quirk or trait. A label. We can't build relationships without bridging connections between someone's face and something memorable about them, for good or bad. We all have a dramatic friend, bossy acquaintance, funny co-worker, or relative with that slightly unique habit, interest, or downright unbelievable belief. We're one or more of those things to someone else. Descriptions about people are not always the same across varied settings; it really depends on the person evaluating the other, what they feel is the most pertinent information or individualized factoid, how the nickname or trait became known (what were the circumstances?), and the environment. Here are a few favorite labels gifted to me:

At a past gig, I spent half my time in an office with a large window next to my desk. I started in late summer and the window let in abundant natural light. Or so I believed. My supervisor and colleagues used to get their daily kick by walking slowly toward me and flipping on the light switch with a flourish before laughing and walking away. I was known as the one (possibly a vampire) who likes to sit in the dark.

Lately, a dear colleague jokes with me because I occasionally wear a leather jacket and talk about playing drums. This amuses her because she thought my demeanor was meek and rather quiet, aligning well with my interests in website design, social media, and self-appointed tasks to set up her Gmail contact lists and troubleshoot her computer. She also worked late once and heard beautiful ballads and riffs by AC/DC filtering out from my work station. I am now known as the studious techie who used to be quiet, but is really a rebellious rocker chick by night.

Most recently, I spent some time with another staff team that prefers to regularly order delivery food for lunch. Instead of partaking in this ritual, I bring a microwaveable bowl of soup to keep my already curvy figure and budgeted wallet in check. Plus, I'm just a sucker for some broth to soothe my throat at lunch time from talking all day with clients. They affectionately call me the Soup Lover.

When I was a teenager, my hair reached my hips and I wore oversized hoodies, plaid pajama pants, and indulged in my insomnia by learning HTML. Today, my hair is shorter, I lounge in casual wear only when time permits (see: Sunday mornings), people pay me to code and counsel, and unfortunately, I wake up early despite any late night tendencies. My best friend and mother are astonished, yet relieved pleased by these (wardrobe) developments.

Who am I, really? All of the above and more. I really enjoyed sitting by a window with natural sunlight pouring onto my desk. I certainly find release in pounding on a drum kit and listening to rock music. Soup is delicious. I prefer lounging to corporate wear, but learned to appreciate the sunrise as well as the sunset.

Personal traits are not static or permanently defining, but progressive, multifaceted, and developmental. No one can escape being categorized, but you can mold your reputation, embody your values, and change, grow, and laugh along the way.

Rae of Chi Speak

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