Last week I wrote about belief narratives and how the things that we are told sometimes, unknowingly, stick with us and alter how we see ourselves or what we can do. There is another side to this as well, sometimes we are stuck on who we believe we are and what we believe we want that we are resistant to change –growth—if it does not fit within this confine.
People like to label things, including ourselves. We label ourselves as athletic, nerdy, outdoorsy, introvert, extrovert, etc., and if a situation or an experience might not fit within that definition we may believe it isn’t for us, because “we know who we are”.
You might have a pretty good idea if something just isn’t for you, even without trying. For example, if you have a fear of heights, you probably don’t need to try skydiving to know it isn’t for you.
But we shouldn’t limit ourselves to our labels. Just because we wanted something at one point, or were one way at one point, does not mean it always has to be that way. If we were working hard toward a goal that we thought we wanted, it doesn’t mean that that goal can’t change.
Labels can be very limiting, whether positive or negative. They are restrictive. There is no reason you can’t change paths just because it does not fit in with who you thought you were. It is good to grow, to change. Who you are today likely isn’t the same person you were ten years ago, and ten years from now you might be a stranger to yourself.
It isn’t disloyal to allow this growth or to close off a chapter in your life. You can decide, for example, that even though you once enjoyed sledding in the mountains that, when that no longer brought joy, it is okay to let that part of you go. You experienced some incredible things, you can always enjoy those memories, acknowledge the fun that was had, and that it was just time to move on.
There is no sense in continuing to do something that once brought you pleasure when it no longer does—just because it once did and you decided to label yourself as such. It does not mean you are turning your back on that part of who you are, you are just honoring the person you are today.
I have been flexible from the start of my degree through to now while I work my way into the publishing industry. Being this flexible has allowed me to find new parts of myself, to find areas that interest me that I didn’t know before, and also emphasized areas I did not want to move toward (that I was pretty positive I wouldn’t enjoy before dipping into it).
I have to remind myself of this frequently—that just because you worked to get to one point does not mean you can’t take that next turn and move toward something else. Every step has helped to get to this point, every minute worked has contributed to finding out more about what I want and where I want to go.
Don’t restrict yourself with labels, because, as easy as it is to put them on, it can be a massive challenge to remove them.