“Waking up to who you are requires letting go of who you imagine yourself to be.” ~Alan Watts
We live in a society of labels. Everyone will try to label you, including yourself. It’s been happening since the beginning. It takes some honesty and objective reflection to see it, but take a moment or two and really think about it.
Eventually, we each begin to subconsciously believe those labels and we start to feel as though to be whole, to be someone in this world, we need to appease our egos and the voices around us by “fitting-in somewhere,” preferably within those aforementioned labels.
Over time, it becomes the foundation for our lives: “I am this person”…. “I am not this person”… “I can do this”… “I can’t do this.” Our entire persona and sense of reality are sculpted by these labels.
In elementary school, we are quickly classified and reinforced with the ideas that we are smart, not smart, a good student, a bad student, a good reader, a bad reader, too hyper, too shy, athletic, uncoordinated… The list goes on and on. We begin to believe these ideas and take them on to be unquestionable, objective-reality truths.
Fast forward to the present day. Now, more than ever, we begin to believe we have tested ourselves on nearly every level; we know who we are.
While you may or may not still believe and buy into some of those labels from your childhood, I can almost guarantee that you still believe in and adhere to the holy idea of labels. Whether they are intellectual, physical, emotional, spiritual, or political, you still label everything, including yourself.
For most of us, our adult selves are a more concrete and self-actualized reflection of our childhood/teenage selves.
Stepping Out of the Box & Into Your Limitless Potential
When you realize the limits your family, your friends, your teachers, and your ego have set for you, you can take your power back and choose to go beyond those limits. You can become whoever you wish to become, or do whatever you previously and falsely thought you couldn’t.
First, we must each come to terms with what is real and what isn’t real—what is a self-imposed limitation and what is something we know, in our heart of hearts to be true. That, my friends, is the first of two difficult steps to freeing yourself.
Most of us have spent our entire lives, up until right now, believing that most, if not all of those labels are tangible parts of our being, inseparable from the fabric of who we are; they hold everything we are and ever will be.
Even if we know deep down that these labels and ideas are wrong or limiting, we are constantly faced with the subconscious war with fear.
This is and will be the second, and most likely the hardest, obstacle you face as you; as an empowered human being with free will, you must consciously decide to step outside of the familiar box and into the unknown.
In general, we fear the unknown and change. We each fear not being good enough, we fear rejection, we fear failing, and we fear not knowing what is going to happen to us. Life is short; don’t waste it living in fear of failure or judgment. We are here at “earth school” to learn how to live in love, rather than fear—to live as empowered beings, not victims.
You are not a victim of your past and your labels. You are a human being capable of anything you set your heart, mind, and soul on.
Once you have firmly decided who you are and who you are going to be as a human being, you have closed the door to endless possibility. This is how the “labels” begin to consume our sense of reality; we become set in our ways and in our beliefs.
Hold onto your character, integrity, and morals, but leave every other part of yourself open to the universe of possibilities. Stay open, stay present, meditate, self-affirm.
Do the work needed in order to surround yourself with positive thoughts, emotions, and people—people who will support you and align with you as you shed the old beliefs and leave the confining box of comfort, expanding and evolving the way you are meant to as a human being.
I spent my entire life, until I was twenty-two, living in a well-crafted box. As I grew up and went to school, I was unable to focus my mind on anything but sports. I was praised as a great athlete and labeled a poor student. My teachers and my parents couldn’t get me to focus, and I barely got by.
I was placed in alternative schools, private schools, and boarding schools; nothing helped. It only reinforced the belief that “I am not smart enough or good enough.”
After having beliefs pounded into my head for years and struggling from elementary through high school, it was clear to me then more than ever: “I am a terrible student; I could never actually get my college degree and do well. I’m too unfocused; I’m not smart enough.”
I took the labels on as objective-reality truths and struggled all the way through my early years of college, only to drop out at twenty-two in the pursuit of bigger and better things.
As I got older, I had to figure out what I was good at. All I knew was that I was good at sports and bad at school. I couldn’t do anything that required focused attention in a structured setting.
From the age of eighteen until twenty-four years old I struggled trying to find my way. I knew I was good at business and I knew I was smart, but at the same time I knew school was out of the question: “I am just not good at school.” So, I started a small tech company with a friend.
When I reached the age of twenty-five, my life changed forever. I realized and had come to terms with my intuitive abilities—ones I had possessed my whole life but never really knew about until looking back on it in that moment.
I was faced with fear. I began an inner battle with all of the labels I had lived with my entire life: How could I become a professional intuitive and follow what felt right without shedding all of the ideas about who I am and who I am not? Will people judge me? Does this new me line up with who people think I am? Will my friends still like me?
The list goes on and on. I was faced with all of the fears and questions you could imagine.
As of today, I have spent half a decade overcoming a lot of my fears and peeling away the many layers of labels and self-imposed beliefs about my potential and who I am.
I am back in college full-time, finally finishing my degree in health and counseling with nearly perfect grades.
I have found healthy relationships and have overcome the fear and anxiety that previously limited the love I had for myself, and I now work as a professional intuitive and life coach with a successful business doing so.
Was it where I ever thought I would be? No. Was it easy shedding the beliefs, ideas, and labels? No. Was it worth it? Yes. It has been the most freeing thing I have ever done, and even though it has closed some doors to my past, it has opened up new ones to my future I would have never thought possible before.
Once I opened myself up to the endless possibilities of who I am and can be and listened to what my heart and soul were saying, I was free.
Most importantly, I am no longer a victim of my past or my faults. I know I can overcome anything, simply by doing the work, facing my fears, and staying open to the endless possibilities this life has to offer.
There are countless other labels I have taken on in my personal life, each one just as difficult to shed as the ones I have mentioned. Yours will be similar or completely different; it is your work to identify and release them.
I am where I am today because I constantly push myself through the two steps mentioned above. It takes time and effort to overcome years of conditioning, but we all have the power to do it.
Photo by Ewen Roberts