I am _____________.

What am I?
That’s the real question.

I know that I am a human being, and that is one of the only labels that I ever wish was used to describe me.
Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Many labels are associated with my existence, including negative and positive labels, depending largely on the individual labeling me.

Labels are unfortunately inevitable, and human beings, as well as our society, enjoy utilizing labels to describe, define, and pass judgement on others.
Even more unfortunately, negative labels are inevitable as a human being, as our society seemingly enjoys using labels in a negative connotation, in order to categorize, group, and associate, or even differentiate, individuals.


I am imperfect.

While this is an unsettling label to have to live with, I am human, which ultimately means that imperfection is part of my genetic makeup and DNA.
These imperfections, or flaws, are things that you should not punish yourself for, as they are the parts of yourself that set you apart from others.
However, a handful of new labels can come from your imperfections, as individuals will continue to judge and label you for your unique, or “flawed,” qualities.
Labels can be applied to both physical and intangible qualities.

I am clumsy.
I am ditzy.
I am forgetful.
I am a complainer.
I am distracted.
I am temperamental.
I am sensitive.
I am emotional.
I am loud.
I am fast-paced.
I am over thinking.
I am eccentric.
I am unique.
I am irritating.
I am energetic.
I am lazy.
I am anxious.
I am intense.
I am passionate.
I am annoying.
I am happy.
I am impulsive.
I am confused.
I am EXTRA.
I am crazy.
I am weird.
I am a try-hard.
I am competitve.
I am hypocritical.
I am curious.
I am naÌve.
I am opionated.
I am critical.
I am gullible.
I am stubborn.
I am sassy.

The list could truly go on for days, but I figured I would stop here.
These qualities are some of the many facets that makeup my personality, and myself.
Descriptors of all sorts can be used to describe others, but many of these descriptors, or labels, have a negative connotation. The way to overcome these imperfections, or unique facets of your personality and inner workings, is to learn to look at them with a new positive perspective.
I dare you to put a positive twist on your imperfections.
Your imperfections are given to you, in order for you to learn to utilize them in the real world. Find outlets or opportunities that allow you to showcase your “imperfections,” or qualities that make you who you are. It is especially pertinent to be able to use these qualities for your benefit, so instead of sulking over that stupid label, utilize it and manipulate it for your advantage.

Of course, this is all much easier said than done.
I can say for certain that these imperfections of mine have gotten me into a lot of trouble, but at the same time, they have been the reasons for some of my biggest blessings.
It truly just depends on whether you would like to look at things as a glass half full, or a glass half empty.

Labels can really take the form of an ugly creature, especially when negative, malicious labels are used against you.
Words, such as “ugly,” “fat,” “skinny,” “emaciated,” “loser,” “bitch,” “faggot,” “gay,” etc. can really hit home for most individuals, as these labels can really be internalized and cause serious damage to someone.
Personally, as a girl with a very fast metabolism and a very petite frame, I have been around the block when it comes to vicious labels about my weight and small frame.
“You are anorexic,” “you are emaciated,” “you are disgusting,” “you are so bony,” “you have an eating disorder,” “you are SO skinny,” and finally, “you are TOO skinny.”
Our society worships the idea of being skinny, as our society, by popular belief, has decided that being skinny makes one attractive.
While many individuals would idealize having such a small frame, or being unable to gain weight, my small frame actually is one of the many things that I am not proud of, as it draws unnecessary attention towards me.
I let these labels and opinions affect me so much so that I would never wear form-fitting clothing and felt uncomfortable wearing clothes that may have shown, not even show off, my body shape.
The baggier the clothes, the less people were able to identify my size, or so I thought myself. So, I chose to hide my body by wearing clothes that were comfortable nonetheless, but did not always make me feel good.
I felt as though my body and my small frame almost offended individuals, or bothered them, as it seemed to be one of everyone’s favorite topics to address with me.
My secret to keeping a small frame is something that I have yet to find out, because I can tell you for sure that my diet is far from healthy. I can also eat more than a boy going through puberty, however, for some reason, I am still unable to gain any form of substantial weight.
I do not know what to say other than, “I have tried time-and-time again.”
This is something about myself that I cannot change, so I naturally had to accept my body and learn to love this small, bony body that allows me to do all the things that I love to do.

Unfortunately, labels are mandatory in some aspects of our society, especially when it comes to mental health, as one must receive a diagnosis, in order to receive help.
In this sense, professionals utilize labels in order to categorize and to diagnose your symptoms.
Having a professional psychiatric diagnosis can come with its’ own negative labels and connotations, as many will attempt to utilize your diagnosis to label you in a negative light.

According to a handful of professional doctors, my existence comes with a handful of labels, as a result of my unique biochemical makeup.
So, here it goes…

I am complex PTSD.
I am OCD.
I am social anxiety.
I am panic disorder.
I am agoraphobia.
I am phobias.
I am ADHD.
I am six types of ADD (classic ADD, inattentive ADD, overfocused ADD, temporal lobe ADD, limbic ADD, ring of fire ADD, and anxious ADD).

With these labels automatically associated with my existence, it is quick for strangers to continue what professionals have addressed and continue associating me with unprofessional labels.
unfortunately, these strangers, or peers, do not have professional qualifications to diagnose me with labels that fall outside of these psychiatric disorders in which I have been diagnosed with.
And, I am not going to lie, mostly because I am horrible at it anyways, these unnecessary labels formulated by various individuals experiences with me, or through word-of-mouth, were and still are hurtful and greatly offensive.
It is incredibly difficult not to internalize these outside opinions, as I have spent years obsessing, internalizing, and believing these horrible labels that others have attempted to shove my way.
For someone who is so critical of myself in order to avoid getting labeled, I really ended up with a handful of labels, especially when it comes to my mental health. It is truly ironic, as I actively have always worked to be as close to perfect as possible, in the hopes of facing any negative criticism from myself, as well as others. Unfortunately, getting labeled with these diagnoses was not something that I asked for and these labels are the last possible thing that I could have ever just had handed to me.
But, I cannot run away from these labels, as they are a significant part of my life, and allow me to understand myself and somewhat understand my actions, behaviors, and reactions.
Why I have so many labels is a mystery to me…The world works in such interesting ways, am I right?
I can tell you for certain that the more that you listen to these comments, which are simply just opinions and not based on facts, you may start to believe them, and in turn, react in a way that coincides with that label.
For example, for many years, and still to this day, people have told me that I am crazy. In fact, I have been called various synonyms of crazy, as well.
And, for a while, I took this offensively, ran with it, and internalized it.
I would literally try (VERY HARD) to be “crazy,” because that is what I thought people wanted, and that is what I thought people thought of me. So, naturally, I began believing that I was much more crazy than I already am and began acting out. With anxiety like mine, I began obsessing over how crazy people thought I was, even though I was not even THAT crazy, but if a large majority of people are saying I am, then that must be so.
Instead of being “crazy busy,” “crazy lazy,” or “crazy fun,” I internalized this label in a negative light, which only fueled my fire to attempt to showcase a very extreme version of “crazy.”
To be honest, trying THAT hard to be something that I simply am not was extremely tiresome, extremely difficult, and required an extreme amount of motivation, which was fueled by the labels.
I would think to myself, “They think I am crazy? Well, I can give you crazy. Let me show you what crazy actually is!”
The point of this story is that I let these labels get to me, and instead of turning a cheek, or simply embracing my eccentric existence, I decided to go out of my way to put on a show for myself (because who really actually cares and who really actually wants to watch), in an attempt to try to embrace this label.
This was simply not constructive behavior, and in fact, I did not do a very good job at acting the role of “crazy.” If I had to grade myself on the effort, I would give myself an A+, but my execution was C-, at that.
I was trying to prove a point to the world, but instead, I forgot that everyone else is so entirely wrapped up in their own worlds that no one truly was watching my “crazy show.”
The funnier part about this time of my life was that all my close friends, who know me very well, treated me no differently and did not buy into my act. In fact, they kept telling me and reassuring me that I was completely sane, which completely defeated the purpose of trying to act “crazy.”
This was the complete opposite reaction that I wanted!
I clearly did not do a very convincing job, and have to do better next time.
My efforts were truly for nothing, as I realized that the only opinions that truly matter are your own, which also include your tight-knit support group, who always love, support, and cheer you on.

In my day, I have been labeled a lot of negative things. A lot of these labels emerged as a result of my diagnoses, as many people find it difficult to understand me, accept me, and be patient with me.
I am a very confusing and controversial person to understand, as many people have come to understand that I have more layers than an onion.
Many of my behaviors, actions, and words are confusing and make people wonder where my head is at, but I sware it is right where it needs to be, which is right above my shoulders.

I am misunderstood.
I am an acquired taste.

It is no one’s fault truly.
I am like a grapefruit, because when you first try grapefruit, not that many people like them right off the bat, as they are very tangy and very startling to one’s tastebuds. But, grapefruit tends to grow on people, and with time, you begin slowly acclimating to it.

Maybe, I am tequila. 
Tequila is a contradiction, as it is truly an acquired taste and not many people truly enjoy it. In fact, people love to hate tequila! However, people are still willing to drink it, because tequila gaurantees a good time (most times), poor decisions, and a break from reality. Though most people hate drinking tequila, everyone still tolerates it and can always count on tequila for a not-so-memorable time.

With that said, I also know what and who I am, or at least I think I do.
I can for certain say that I know what and who I am more now than I did a year ago.

I am strong.
I am charismatic.
I am fun.
I am intelligent.
I am friendly.
I am motivated.
I am energetic.
I am beautiful.
I am trying.
I am hardworking.
I am patient.
I am kind.
I am forgiving.
I am exciting.
I am open-minded.
I am witty.

I am perseverance.
I am creative.
I am hilarious.
I am awkward.
I am outgoing.
I am adventurous.
I am a lover.

♥ I am me ♥

You see even with all these labels attached to me, I still would like to think that I have some redeemable qualities, whether people recognize it and appreciate it should not matter.
All that matters is that you appreciate yourself and learn to practice that notion we call self-love.
This is very difficult for me, as I have always been an individual who was quick to criticize themselves, and take every loss and mistake too personally and too seriously.
I am always thinking about ways I could have been “better,” and often fall into the pattern of simply just punishing myself for small mistakes, or faults, that I may have made throughout the day. Even if I have not made a mistake, there is always something MORE I could have done.
Instead of simply letting things go, I begin picking myself apart and letting this mistake define myself, my self-worth, etc.
It is a toxic cycle!
With mistakes and losses, there comes labels, which I am always trying to avoid. However, labels always seemingly make their way into my life.

Labels are being dropped more frequently than human beings drop their phones on their faces while they are texting laying down.
That is saying a lot!

Labels are all fun and games, until you let these labels get the best of you. While most labels are thrown around with a negative connotation behind it, do your best to utilize this information, or this label, to your advantage.
While you cannot control other people, you can control what you do with these labels, or descriptors, of yourself. Labels, as bad as this sounds, can actually be beneficial to a certain extent, as labels are often based upon observations and experiences that others have had with you. You can find out a lot about the way that you may come off from an outsider’s perspective from people labeling you. Maybe, there are things that you can work on and improve on, which means that the control the label was supposed to have over you is no longer existent.

Labels will be around until the Earth decides to rest in peace, or human beings become extinct. And, while labels are great to use to identify people, things, places, etc., realize the power that a label can have on a person and their ability to live.
Stop telling people what they are and let people figure it out for themselves – that is, unless they wish to seek your help.

Next time someone tries to label you, just simply respond, “I know you are, but what am I?”

All I know is that…

[I am human]
[I am hungry]

[I am parched]
[I am tired]

What are you?
I challenge you to fill in the blanks and share your labels, and your experience, with them with me.
I am ________.

Do not let others tell you what and who you are, you be the judge of that.

xo,

Aichan Tewahade