OK. So I'm getting that a lot of people don't like labels, but I doubt even among those who don't like labels define themselves with certain ones.
It's not as if I'm a huge fan, but they do bring some comfort, I think, in certain situations. For example, it's nice to know why I can be depressed one week and totally level and productive the next, willing to do anything because I can take on the fucking world. Why I can be all over the map, forgetful of absolutely everything, never sleep or sleep all the time. Or how I can be happy one minute and your enemy the next. I've been picking fights this weekend, for example, as well as considering dropping this blog entirely--but today I'm better. It's not PMS, however much I kind of wish it were. Knowing I'm bipolar gives me power. I don't advertise this because I fear the stigma, but it helps me. It helps my husband. It helps my kids. That's all that matters.
I consider myself post-Mormon. Liberal. And, as of today, agnostic (I never said I was taking on "atheist" for sure, y'all. just exploring. still am.) It's the best I've got and will basically get the point across. However, it's not for anyone else's benefit but my own.
I know labels can restrict self-perception and others' perceptions of you as well, but they can bring comfort. It's good to know what's going on instead of worrying about a certain behavior or situation. It's good for parents to know their kids are autistic so they can create a battle plan, find support groups, understand that it's not them.
They help to define us but they don't completely define us. Other people will see it otherwise, simply, maybe, because it's easier. Is that my problem or yours? Your problem or mine? You see?
Or am I off your radar with that? Is there a difference to you between conditions and beliefs? I find it easier to either say "I dunno" or "I don't believe" rather than to go into an entire conversation about it without even being asked first. A lot of people struggle when they're in transition from the church to define their spiritual station in life--are they New Order Mormon, Jack Mormon, Cultural Mormon, inactive Mormon, Post or Ex-Mormon, etc. all because they don't feel Mormon. It all depends on who you talk to. That seems to be the rub.
You can say you're agnostic to avoid the lecture while knowing inside you don't believe at all. Plenty will present themselves as totally active and believing Christians or Mormons because they don't want to deal with the assholes. Some will be upfront because they feel a need to discredit stereotypes. A sometimes impossible task.
Something I learned from writing and reading the comments from the last few posts is that labels only work insofar as other people understand exactly what it means...to you. They seem to be extremely subjective. Something I hadn't considered before.
Are you Christian in the way others would consider you saved or a heretic? What brand of agnostic are you? How do you define your Mormon/Christian/Catholic/Jewish, etc. past? Do you even want to, and why or why not?
There are artists, hipsters, jocks, lesbians, gays, shy people, outgoing people, intellectuals, redneck, cholas/cholos, Jewish folks, Islamic folks, emos, gothics (do they exist anymore? they seem to be todays emos), etc. Are some of these mere descriptions or can they be considered labels as well?
We are more than our religious beliefs. We are more than our jobs. We are more than our race, ethnicity. We are more than a mother or a wife, a father or a husband. A child or a parent. So much more. I think that's a lot of the problem here as well. It's easier for both us and others to pick one and obsess over it. They can help to define us, but they don't define us. We are more than the sum of our parts.
How many of us worry about stereotyping and why? I'll tell you, I'm not exactly thrilled about the idea of less or more-religious people looking down at me and thinking I'm closed-minded because I might be giving a bit more credence to science than faith in something I cannot see, attributing some but not necessarily every experience to coincidence or otherwise. I hardly discredit faith entirely. It's not cut and dry like that. At all. I don't like that I have to be careful for others' comfort or for my own. I shouldn't have to be, but maybe that's just reality.
(the last paragraph is not directed toward anyone in particular, just fyi)
I also understand--a lot--how discouraging and disheartening it can be when you are treated as if you are one thing. A mom. Someone's wife. The convert. Someone's roommate. Shy. A woman. A teacher. Tomboy. It's a hard fight to teach others that you're more. That everyone is more.
I've felt the sting of the limiting label and the empowerment and comfort of another.
What say you?