Toxic Labeling

January 5, 2018
By , North Smithfield, RI

“I'm different.”
“Everyone says they're different at your age.”
“No, I'm different.”

Sometimes I feel like I'm a bit too different.
Autistic, lesbian, prone to depression.
It seems like too many things for just one highschooler to be.
Then I remember: these things don't define me.
It's hard to remember that when everything has a label, and all labels have restrictions. It's hard to remember when other people piece my personality on these things.
These things about me are just factors of who I am, not my whole person. Just like how I like to watch TV in the evening, but no one calls me “the TV girl.”
And even though people say they think of me the same, I know they don't. I can see it in how they treat me.
Suddenly, an autism diagnoses and I don't have to go to that event, and I get to tell my sisters to leave me alone when they're being loud, and no one tells me to “loosen up.”
That should have been the way it was when it was just labeled “anxiety.”
But labels change things.
When I came out, no one talked about how hot that actor was, or asked me if there was a boy I liked. Suddenly, everyone stopped telling me I'll want kids someday, and I'll want a husband someday. Sometimes changes are good.
But it isn't the point.
Because I had to hear and bear those things for the first 14 years of my life. Saying “No” or “I don't like it” or “That makes me uncomfortable” should've been enough. But I had to get my labels first, before my wishes were valid.
I think it's part of the reason no one likes being lumped into the majority. Because no, no, I have problems too. I have things that make me uncomfortable and things I do/don't want.
When did being different start to mean being a human?
Social norms can become toxic.
And we drink it up like straight poison, believing every word like a rule book for existing. And that's why I keep writing these articles—telling people they're not alone, that they're valid, that it's not the only thing that makes them who they are, that I understand, because no one else will.
We forget people need to be reminded  that their identity is not just one factor or one label. We need to remind people to listen when someone says “no” or “I don't want to” or “this gives me anxiety.”
It's an age old song and it's still a problem.
Because whether or not you deem yourself “normal”, you're still a person, and you deserve to be heard and believed about the things you know about yourself.


 






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