Labels

The last few days I’ve come to realize that my whole life I’ve been some kind of label. Sometimes at first glance the labels were put there to encourage. Usually they were kind of derogatory in flavor though. I’ve been thinking about some of those labels a lot lately… and I think my view on some of them has changed.

My first label that I remember was that I was the bad kid. I broke my crayons (when I was six) and my older siblings didn’t break the crayons that they got when they were 12. I guess it might have had something to do with the fact that I also melted them on the registers in the winter when the coal furnace was blowing nice toasty warm air. The colors (until they melted down into the duct work) were amazing. I also stuck clay to the living room ceiling… and shot pencils through the holes in a spool that they discarded when working on wiring the power lines… and cut the cat’s whiskers off and taught him how to swim in the horse’s water barrel. The water was only about three inches deep… so he got wet… and angry… but was fine. Even when I was in high school and begged Mister Orr (the principle) to give me detention so the kids at school would quit hating me for being a goody goody… I was still the bad kid at home.

Then I was voted the female “Biggest Ham” my senior year. At the time I didn’t guess I realized it… but in retrospect, I guess that was pretty accurate, too. I don’t think I would have quite qualified for drama queen if that had been a real word back then, but I was pretty hammy…

The label that most stuck in my head and my heart was “People like you”. I’ve never quite been able to get that lable out of my head. Every time I think about trying something new, or following my forever and ever dream (writing).. I remember that I’m people like me… and people like me don’t write, if they write they don’t publish and they certainly NEVER get paid for it. Even though I’ve managed to do just that, get paid for writing, I still end up remembering that I’m nothing more than people like me and people like me… just… don’t.

Yesterday, though, it was pointed out (not for the first time) that I’m one of “those” people. At the time, it kind of stung, because I’ve never really thought of myself as one of those people. I read it as one of those people who are mary sunshine and try to inflict their mary sunshine-ness on the rest of the world. And the longer I’ve thought about it, the less it stung… the more I’ve come to realize that I really am one of those people… To a great extent, I am one of those people because I have taken to heart the Henry Ford quote…

Henry Ford – “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”

and I think everyone needs to remember that. It might not be immediately, and it might not be easy (lord knows neither half marathons were easy and they were both INCREDIBLY painful… the next one will be, as well, I have no doubt) but if you think you can… you can. One grain of sand at a time, you can move the mountain. I’m not always as happy as I come off… but that too… If I smile even a fakey smile long enough I figure it will either get to be a real one, or I will fall asleep and it won’t matter anyway! Pretending things don’t bother me has meant that my son thinks I’m the strongest person he knows. No matter how many times I tell him that I want nothing as much as I want to sit down and cry, he won’t believe I’m not strong… because I get up every morning and I keep trying and I don’t quit and I won’t give up.

I guess everyone has their own labels. Some suck. Some not so much. Some you just kind of have to embrace and make them your own. As I sit here an look at my fingers sticking out of my Charles Dickens fingerless gloves (and listen to Dominick the Donkey and I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas), I realize that I will probably have many more labels that I need to embrace and make my own. Some I will keep (crazy Disney chick.. yeah.. I can do that one… and Auntie… the young man who gave me that one has no idea how much that meant to me… and mom… that one means more than anything) some I will eventually part with. Labels can define us, or we can use them to redefine ourselves. I think I will keep trying to do the latter…

Happy Thanksgiving…

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