I’m not talking about the label in your new dress. Those kind of labels you can easily cut out and throw away.
I’m talking about those labels that we have been given or that we have given ourselves. Those labels that stick. Those labels that have been with us as long as we can remember. Those labels that threaten to define who we are and to control our whole lives.
I am a single parent…I am gay…I am depressed…I am unemployed…I am adopted…I am disabled…I am an addict…I am old…I am obese.
Often preceded by ‘I’d love to, but…’
Or followed by ‘So I can’t…’
Is this the first thing you feel the need to tell others about yourself?
Why? Is this the thing that defines you? The only thing? The most important thing? Is this the sum of who you are? There is so much more to you than this. You are a unique collection of characteristics and gifts and weaknesses – a rich tapestry of loves and passion and kindness and enthusiasm and humour – these are far more interesting than any labels you may be wearing.
I have PTSD…I have ADHD…I have IBS…I have Fibromyalgia…I have Multiple Sclerosis…I have Autism…I have Severe Anxiety Disorder…I have Anorexia…I have Attachment Disorder.
These are the things that set us apart from everyone else. That make us feel different. Isolated. Maybe even ashamed or pathetic or useless.
These are the things that stop us being who we want to be. Stop us doing what we want to do.
I have this condition…
…so I just can’t help behaving like this…
… so don’t ever ask me to…
…so I will never be able to…
…so I will always be…
…so I can’t…
Don’t get me wrong. A diagnosis can be helpful. It can get us the advice and help and support and understanding that we need to manage our condition. But we do not need to let our condition define us. It does not have to determine who we are. What we can and can’t do.
There are people all over the world finding creative ways to do incredible things, whatever their ‘condition’ may be. Ordinary people who have become extraordinary by setting their hearts on a dream and doing all that they can to achieve it. And actually, in the end, those people are always far more inspiring than the ones who are really good at something, who find it easy to achieve greatness. Those that struggle to finish are the real heroes.
Find a way. Do it your way.
Believe in yourself, in your ability to overcome.
Use your imagination to deal with the obstacles.
Cut out your label and throw it away.