Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Don't Label Me

I will be the first to tell you that I hate definitions.
I hate that our society demands them, and seems to need them, in order to accept those who populate it. From sexual orientation to musical identity: definitions keep us organized and neatly dropped into little catagories for others to analyze. And I, for one, am not a fan.

It's not that certain situations don't require definitions, or that we shouldn't be proud of the things that make us unique. What I have a problem with is the rare occasion (who am I kidding?) that those definitions are used as ammunition; when the people who give the label do so only to rally against it.

I accept people for who they are, no questions asked. Unless it involves harming someone or something, I generally don't ask people to defend themselves. I allow people the freedom to be and enjoy who they are. Call me crazy, but being judged isn't something I enjoy, so I try my hardest not to engage in the act of judgement either.

Recently, a friend of mine, who happens to prefer her sexuality remain undefined, broke up with her girlfriend. Immediately our friendship was under fire - not only by those outside of the situation (who desperately need to define her), but by the girl who dumped her. Over the course of the last few days, my friend has repeatedly thrown her hands into the air and exlaimed, "Why is it that I can't just be friends with someone without wanting to get into their pants?!"

Why can't I do anything without everyone wanting me to define exactly what it is?

I wondered exactly the same thing. And, while enjoying a fun, but relatively awkward night out with her, her ex-girlfriend, and my ex-boyfriend (who was hit on by said ex-girlfriend in what I suspect was retaliatory for what she thought were my less-than-innocent intentions), I wondered why - if our need to define things often cause such tension - do we feel the need to define anything at all?

Most definitions seem only to be used when one party wants a reason to be angry - a reason to act negatively toward the person they're attempting to define. And, if labels insight riots, cause acts of hatred, and create tension within a society, what's the use in employing them? I know, I know. Definitions aren't always negative. On the off-chance that I do apply a label to myself, I am proud to wear it and draw strength from it. But, in many cases, they are the very same labels used negatively against me (and, therefor, the reason I am compelled to carry them proudly).

I suppose I'm lucky ... lucky to be confident. I don't need to define myself and I certainly don't need to define everyone around me. I enjoy challenging misconceptions and, sometimes, making people uncomfortable. I just the hate the idea of boxing myself in so that the rest of the world can feel at ease).

Yes, I'm a 'lover'
No, I don't define my sexuality - but I also don't define anyone else's
Yes, we are just friends
No, I can't tell you what my favorite color/movie/music genre is ... and I don't want to

Because I like to be surprised and, most importantly, I'd like to surprise you every once and a while. I mean, life is full of surprises. Why be unprepared for them by attempting to define all of the unique details? And, in case anyone's forgotten ... one of the best things about life is it's unpredictability. In trying to define something as complicated as life, you might risk ruining what's so beautiful about it.