Rip off the labels & embrace your grey area

We humans enjoy a good stereotype. The cliques formed in school show this perfectly. There’s the jocks, popular kids, nerds, drama geeks, goths, hipsters etc.

As a society, if there is one thing we have in abundance its sub-cultures. Hippies, yogis, yuppies, gamers, bikers, punks, artists, all the way to liberals, feminists and fascists. It doesn’t stop.

All these labels come with certain assumed behaviours, interests, activities and even dress codes. Jocks play sport, goths wear black, hippies light incense, bikers wear leather. You get the jist.

But I’d like to pose a question: can we be more than one?

All through school I was known as the music fan. I was known for going to gigs, geeking over artists, aspiring to a music career, and never being seen without an earphone plugged in. But when I grew older things changed and I formed an interest in cooking, food, and wellness. So what was I now? A health-nut and no longer the music guy?

And then, as the result of life changing experiences and run-ins with my mental health, I became obsessed with self-care and began meditating, practising yoga and journalling (and this blog). Now what am I? “Woke”? A hippie?

For people with generalised anxiety this is debilitating as it leaves us without an identity, losing a sense of oneness. For me it felt like I was losing who I was, when really I was just evolving. It fed into my career, social life, goals and dreams.

To illustrate this I recently went to a rock concert, something I used to do often. I then came home and meditated before getting into bed. What a great amalgamation of the “old me” and the “today me”. Rock concert followed by meditation. A true conundrum.

So now what? I can’t be both, can I? A music dude and a hippie? This makes no sense? For some reason this has always left me feeling off-balance. I think that stems from my all or nothing personality.

However, the more people I meet the more I learn that I am not the only person that feels this way. What a relief.

We live in a label-obsessed society elevated by social media and online personalities.

But this is a belief I intend to unlearn. Because if we limit ourselves to fitting into one box, we limit our thinking. We limit our ability to form our own opinions. We limit our opportunities.

Truth is that these cultural labels and dogmas are created by society, but we are such intricate beings with far more worth than what we are stereotyped to be.

You can meditate AND rock out at a live concert. You can play football AND enjoy cooking. You can be a yogi AND a gamer. You can be a bookworm AND a biker. You can enjoy pop music AND heavy metal. You can appreciate the theatre AND be a career-driven yuppie. You can enjoy pop music AND heavy metal, and hey, why not throw in some rap and classical too?

If we want to think for ourselves, we have to get out of our ideological tribes. We have to not think of ourselves as Libertarians, Midwesterners, or Nomads, but rather as simply ourselves, and assess ideas on individual merit, instead of on how they fit into our boxes with us. –

Nat Eliason

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