The Importance of Being Labelled

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Labels are important…let me clarify that, well defined labels are important.
We moved house recently, and let me tell you, a box that is labeled with ‘stuff’ or not labeled at all can cause a few problems. We used recycled boxes, so they already had other people’s labels on them and they did not necessarily reflect what I was putting in the box, so they had to be relabelled, but even that was confusing…which label was correct? Consequently, I am now surrounded in boxes with no labels, incorrect labels, misleading labels and those that are precisely labelled and I have no idea where anything is!
I have a bit of a organisational bent…I love having things in precise lines, I alphabetise my books and DVDs and, if I had my way, each box would be labelled, numbered and entered into a spreadsheet that listed all the items in he box, but I live in a family who don’t see things the way I see them.  I like to have specific drawers for specific kitchen utensils, but unless I am prepared to always do the dishes and put them away, my kitchen never stays organised and I get frustrated.  I’m sure my family does it on purpose just so I will tell them to leave it, but I’m on to them!
Although I have a love of labels and lists and like to have specific homes for specific things, I have always hated being labelled myself.  I have had a very varied and eclectic career life from retail to beauty to I.T to graphic design to cafe owner.  I like my options to remain open, there are so many things I want to do and want to experience that being labelled and put in a box grates against me.  I even struggle against the labels of ‘mother’ and ‘wife’, although I love being both of those, I don’t want to be ‘only’ those things.
We live in a society that also rebels against labels, people don’t like to be put in a box and told that this is all they are. It feels somehow restraining to be told you are an A when you may be more than just an A. If we are always told we are an A, we may never discover that we can also be a B.
Despite individuals disliking being labelled, society likes to use labels to help categorise people.  We are all so diverse that it is practically impossible for governments to deal with us on an individual basis, so we have to be lumped into people groups and socioeconomic boxes just so those who are running the country can try to meet our needs. Unfortunately this is not always helpful or particular effective and as much as I hate being labelled, in some cases, we need to be.
Nobody likes to be incorrectly or cruelly labelled. Just like labelling a box with ‘stuff’ doesn’t do it justice, labelling a person as stupid or useless or even fat doesn’t do the person justice. But some labels are vitally important. Food labels, medication labels, poison labels all these are necessary and good. They acknowledge what is inside and warn about potential problems. And imagine if tinned foods didn’t have labels? How many would you have to open to find what you were after?
Just looking at the labelling laws and the legislation that is created to ensure food is labelled correctly goes a long way to proving how important labels are. We all want to know what we are getting, we want it to be clear and truthful and in that way labels are good.
I am a diabetic…it only hit me as I was packing my boxes to move that I am a diabetic. I have type 2 diabetes and for some reason I have not been able to acknowledge that this is a real disease and the implications it will and does have on the length and quality of my life. Maybe it is because it gets beat up on in the media as being self inflicted or a byproduct of obesity, but my inability to label myself as a diabetic has meant that I have not taken it seriously, have not seen myself as someone who is suffering from a potentially life shortening disease and therefore have not been treating myself accordingly.  As much as I hate being labelled, this is an important one.  I need to be labelled as a diabetic so that I can get the treatment and medication I need, I need to be labelled as diabetic so that I can take the steps needed to ensure I live as long and as healthfully as possible. By denying the label I am not doing myself any justice and I am robbing myself and my family.
Acknowledging the label scares me.  By acknowledging myself as a diabetic, I then have a responsibility to take care of myself. Acknowledging the label means being accountable…and that’s a whole other issue.

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7 thoughts on “The Importance of Being Labelled

  1. Congrats on an interesting perspective. You are so much more than just a amazing wife and mother …….. and I’m looking forward to the next instalment.

  2. Michelle, When nursing I remember regularly being exasperated when patients were labeled ‘diabetic’ , ‘schizophrenic’, ‘hypertensive’ etc, etc. All people are individuals created in the image of God, and despite our imperfections everyone deserves to treated with dignity and respect and not labelled anything. You are a beautiful woman with many gifts and talents …. and you just happen to have diabetes. xx

  3. That’s so true about not acknowledging it until it hits you in the face! I never actually think of myself as a type 1 diabetic, despite having to take insulin with food and check my blood sugar levels 10 times a day! Its just something that I have to do, and only a small part of what makes me me.

    Frank
    type1writes.com

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