I am a workout junkie, a traveler, a lesbian, a best friend, a Christian, a girl with tattoos, a therapist, a sister, a wine drinker, a music lover and a diet coke addict, but first and foremost, I am a human being.
I fight labels every day. For myself, and for the people around me. The scientific way we use them to box each other in, to try and predict each other’s behavior, is like trying to control the weather. Does is it make you feel more comfortable to stand next to me if one of my labels matches one of yours? Probably. But does that label define who I am as a human? Most definitely not. I am more than one word in one category of my human experience.
I work with mentally ill patients. People who are defined in society by these heavy, weighted labels that can make them inferior or scary in the eyes of ignorant passersby. Schizophrenic. Paranoid. Bipolar. Depressed. Psychotic. These words are used to define and categorize symptoms of illness. Descriptions intended to help professionals understand, not to empower laypersons to judge. These labels can terrify families and discourage patients. But they are only one part each person. Do you know what else my patients are? They are artists. They are singers, and dancers, and painters. They are engineers and professors and mothers and fathers. They are Christian and Jewish and Hindu and Agnostic. They are human beings, looking for the same things we are all looking for: acceptance, love, and belonging.
It took me what feels like an inordinately long time to accept myself. I still struggle with some of the labels that have been put on me, and some of the labels that I have placed on myself. Lesbian was and is a hard one for me. I feel like I’m supposed to stop wearing makeup, or not use so much glitter in my art projects, or cut my hair short. I feel like I should be attracted to a certain kind of girl, fit the stereotype set forth in the media and lesbian subculture for a femme woman. But you know what? I don’t want to give up any of those things or trade in peices of me to fit what other people think I should be.
I am shy, I can be quiet and guarded. But I am also loud, and can be obnoxious and silly. I like time alone to collect my thoughts, but I also love the adrenaline of being in a crowd and enjoy spending hours with my friends and family. I go to church every Sunday and I have quiet time with Jesus every morning, but I reject the messages of hate and judgement that some of my fellow believers espouse.
I am more than a label. I am me. I am a human being. I Am The Human Experience.
– – – – – – –
What is The Human Experience? It is the validity in your story and the story of 7,000,000,000 other people in this world. How do you put a label on being human? You don’t. You open your heart and listen. This is the foundation of our publication, The Human Experience, and we want to hear your story. Join us in spreading the diversity of the human experience with the world by sharing your story. Find out how to share your story with the world.