Pretty Pink People Labels

“People like to think of you as a certain person, or a certain type of person, and they do love to give you a label. We like luggage labels, and we like people labels.”  Clare Balding

I love my bright pink leather luggage label.  I can immediately spot it among the dozens of little black suitcases making the rounds on the baggage carousel.  Labels are handy for identifying and describing something or someone.  But I’m becoming less and less enamoured with people labels.

50114054a_dWe label every aspect of ourselves from nationality to religion to ethnicity to gender.  Sometime these labels help connect us but they also divide us.  This is how I’m feeling with the introvert/extrovert label.  And its side kick the internal/external processing label.  I’ll throw Myers-Briggs in here too.

So the bright pink label attached to me is extroverted, external processing ENFJ.  Yes, I like being around people A LOT.  I process with words both verbal and written.  And some of the Myers-Briggs stuff is bang on.  These labels help me and those in my life understand how I communicate and engage with the world but these labels also have a dark side.

It’s a barrel of laughs identifying and understanding these labels but WAY less fun coming to terms with how they affect our lives and relationships.  And WAY, WAY less fun figuring out how to coexist with people whose labels are the complete opposite of our own.

I have spent a lot of time trying to understand how my pretty pink labels affect my partner, kids and close friendships.  While I still struggle with the idea that my chatty, outgoing ways can be offensive (like really?), I have experienced the dark side:

  • Friends think they are not special or important because there are so many people in my life.
  • My partner has a panic attack looking at our social calendar.
  • People misunderstand and get upset by my ramblings as I try to process my life, their life, life in general, the afterlife – well you the idea.
  • Friends think they are just filling a time slot because I don’t want to be alone.
  • My partner has a panic attack looking at our social calendar.

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Speaking of my partner he’s an internal processing introvert.  That’s right, a match made in heaven.  See this all happened back in the day when I was blissfully unaware of pink people labels and completely smitten with Chris’ long hair and motorcycle.  While our labels have helped us better understand each other and connect, they have also become scapegoats.  It’s easy to blame the label instead of owning up to being an insensitive jerk, a terrible listener or just needing a night in or out or away from each other.

Labels can provide understanding, validation and connectedness but they can also be divisive and destructive.  As we make the rounds on the baggage carousel of life, all our pretty pink people labels should come with bright yellow caution labels.  This might prevent us from living into these labels and giving them more power than they deserve.

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One thought on “Pretty Pink People Labels

  1. well I shoulda known you were an extrovert…but my introverted self was too internally focused to clue in…well that explains many things and I’m good with you being you.

    Like

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