I discovered a gorgeous dress in a “once before loved” designer fashion store. Tried on, bought and rendered eternal in the unique moment of a photo shoot. I act on what calls me; I am passionate and immediate like that.
When I posted it on my Instagram gallery I realized it there’s no designer attached to it.
I want to give it name, an origin, a maker…?
“No label” it is.
On an outing with one of my best friends she suggested to visit Catholic churches for Easter tradition’s sake. I feel immediate resistance. Doesn’t she know that I am an Atheist? Wait. I’m not, that’s a label from my really angry times when I also flirted with “punk culture”. Am I an Agnostic then? Or an Uncertainist?
I don’t really know. I don’t have all the answers, I am uncertain. I’m missing my label.
I should know, shouldn’t I? How uncomfortable is leaving things open? “Wait and see,” my dad always used to say. I start to get what he meant.
Labeling is a word with contradicting outcomes.
It is used to box in, judge and to separate but also for communication, clarity and tribal inclusiveness. As “forever fierce” or “ageless rebel” women we stick together and support each other.
Character labels, social labels, branding labels....
1. Character labels mean judging, others and our selves. I have done that for years. You act in a certain way or say two sentences and I know who you are. My antennas are out, my resistance polished and my guards up. So you like Trump? That creates a label bomb right there. I’m outta here.
I started exercising non-judgment like weight lifting or more like letting go of weights three years ago. Each time I feel a negative reaction to a person, or a limiting judgment of myself, which can go from feeling like a mild uncomfortable rush to a shock, I step back, breathe and watch what’s going on inside of me. It sometimes takes a minute and other times a day to see the person underneath their label.
Not to put people into boxes and reduce myself to reacting to their demeanor or opinions is freedom.
I was searching for freedom all my life and discovered that my prison was inside; my own beliefs created a world of preconceived notions structured by beliefs that were not even mine but pinned onto me or inherited. My beliefs were like a filter of right and wrong.
2. Social labels as bodyguards – I am THIS…
I am rich, white, fashionable and powerful. Anybody who is not rich, white, fashionable and powerful doesn’t belong into the world I love. They could disturb the balance, the peace I feel in my golden cage. I don’t need to learn. I am perfect. I’m the gorgeous parrot who has learned how to talk. The same counts for I am the wild and crazy hippie or rational, proof based, super nerdy scientist…. Using labels as protection from anything different than our safe perception of self is a fear based delusion. The insistence of right and wrong, and being entranced with our "one and only" wonderful world often creates the “therefore I hate yours.”
With strong labels comes avoidance and with that we lose the opportunities to learn and grow.
2. Personal labels - I make sure that you get me
We want to make sure that we are seen the way we want to be seen. We all label each other by characteristics all the time, we think of a particular person as being a smart ass, a diva, an obedient daughter or a mother Theresa. This might correctly describe of who they are right now, but it also carries a belief that the behavior reflects a person’s essence. To avoid being misinterpreted we label ourselves and often forget that we are more than our avatar. Underneath the attitude the Diva is in pain and the obedient daughter might love to break free…
Personal labeling creates cages and we look at each other through bars instead of exploring the neighborhood hand in hand. Who is the person behind her attitudes? And where does the behavior come from in the first place?
3. Labels for branding clarity when the brand is YOU
I want to be perceived as a fearlessly feminine, life loving, vibrant and magical ageless warrior queen, a storyteller who helps others to get their own story straight. I smile a lot.
This is my role, my avatar.
I also am a mother, a friend, a doubter, a tough dude, an introvert, a philosopher, a princess on a pea who sometimes is afraid, argues that life sucks, is totally tired and feels ancient. I sometimes just want to shut up. Other times I cry. I am all that, and I get that you are complex like me. When our brand is ME or YOU then “our truth will set us free”, it creates innovation, success and positive change and what we show freely connects us to others and their true selves. The “femme the future” paradigm wants us to connect from our soul, our essence. Business as usual will not change the world for the better.
Selling ourselves as perfect is stressful and really boring after a while.
Authenticity doesn’t only mean to tell the one branding soap story our business coach recommended, it means to be present, to be real in the moment and open our eyes to the truth of others. My personal pet peeve is commenting “lovely” on everything without even looking; all for the sake of keeping up with likes and being liked back. It’s not helpful to anybody.
Labeling separates more than it is inclusive and looking at our world, separation has got us into a mess. Enough is enough.
What are possible options to be specific yet be our whole package, to be clearly branded yet REAL?
We use our label as a flashlight to our soul, as a fluid journey not a descriptions hammered in stone. We are open to answers, ready to learn new dance moves.
We treat our label as a role like Method actors
As complex human beings we play our roles as best as we can, dreaming of getting an Oscar for our performance.
When we see our label as a role we play it with all our truth we give all we have to the persona we step into. All of us is present just in different degrees. My warrioress is a weave of everything I have to offer and my fierce shows up in pink love as much as in rebellious black.
- we are the role but keep our true identity alive. We know that everybody else plays roles they have created or were created for them.
- we use roles as communication devices; how does my role fit to yours? What kind of design will it add to my stage? How will it change my movie? We give each other a chance to understand.
- we communicate on the stage of life and business following our script but are aware to leave the doors open to more, we stay open for improvisation.
We know that the happy end of our branding clarity of this moment in time is not the end but a beginning; the fun of exploration starts right here.
My Mantra is my label for the weeks to come;
I don’t really know. I don’t have all the answers, I am uncertain. My inviting, flexible, inclusive label supports my journey to all I can be.