Don't Let Someone Else Define Who You Are! ...by Bill Knell
Most people don't like being stuck with a particular LABEL. Labels have become a large part of who people think we are and that's a disturbing trend. It seems that when we meet new people, we have to immediately identify what groups or philosophies we associate ourselves with. Liberal? Conservative? Independent? Single? Married? Divorced? Mom? Step Mom? Dad? Step Dad? Brother? Sister? Step Brother? Step Sister? Dating? Not Dating? Straight? Gay? Lesbian? Bi-Sexual? White? African American? Hispanic? Native American? Oriental? Indian? Christian? Jewish? Muslim? In a society that moves fast, these labels tend to define who we are to others in the quickest fashion possible.
Once we receive a Label, people expect us to act like whatever the particular label implies. If you're a Conservative, you listen to Rush Limbaugh, go along with whatever George Bush does and take the bread out of the mouths of babies and give it to corporation executives. If you're Liberal, you agree with whatever Democratic Leaders say, you're for big government and hate tax cuts. You want to empty the paychecks of all Americans into the mouths of the poor and your ethics are defined by the situation they revolve around. Don't like those definitions? Neither do I! But that's the result of living in a Label-oriented society. So how do we get out of this chicken outfit?
In the early days of computing when programs required a lot more time and effort to write, you were likely to see little signs posted around the machines which stated, "GARBAGE IN, GARBAGE OUT!" You're unlikely to see those signs today. Most Programmers and IT folk hate that phrase and view it as an archaic sign of past times. But that doesn't make it any less true. Carelessly written code is worthless in today's computer-driven world. Not only can it cause problems for whatever function the program is designed to complete, but it can easily disrupt an entire process that's designed to work along with it.
One way out of the system that Labels you is to stop allowing others to define who you are! The road to self-definition begins with a determination to move away from intake of the same information that everyone else consumes. Garbage in, garbage out. I know a lot number of people who purchase tons of self-help books and watch daytime TV talk shows, believing every word some host or expert says as gospel. The problem is that most of the people who write those books, host those shows or appear as guests have more problematic issues in their own lives, then the people watching them! It seems ludicrous to take marriage advice from someone whose been divorced many times or look for child rearing tips from people with no kids or out of control children? People seeking advice are actually looking for someone to define them, make decisions for them and run their lives.
The alternative to being defined is to define. The help you seek might just be staring you right in the face. When is the last time you made a decision, completely on your own? You know YOU better then anyone else. You understand your likes, dislikes and know what makes you tick. Where is it written that you have to run with a certain crowd or do certain things? People often say to me, "I keep making the same mistakes over and over again!" Why? Most of the time it's because they lack the confidence required for change that comes from being a self-made individual, as opposed to yet another cog in the societal wheel. Is that you? Well, the good news is that every day that the sun comes up is an opportunity to start over. To allow someone to define you is to subscribe to a false belief that may not fit who you really are.
Another false belief is that changing your environment will improve your life. Divorce has become the new alka seltzer for relationship problems. You get a stomach ache, you take Alka Seltzer. You have problems in your marriage, you get a divorce. In some Southern States divorce has become so commonplace that the court structure meant to deal with alimony, child/spouse support and the granting of divorce decrees is near collapse. Tennessee now has mandatory counseling for couples considering divorce, hoping that some marriages can be saved. Lawmakers hope this will lessen the burden on the people and children involved, the services needed to police support payments, the court system in general and what it costs the state to deal with it all. A recent report supported that idea by showing that most people who get divorced end up more unhappy then people who stay in troubled marriages. The lesson? Before you call 1-800-d-i-v-o-r-c-e, try counseling. You may be able to change things for the better in your life and the lives of your family right where you are.
No matter what your situation is, being a stand-up individual that doesn't allow their friends, family, co-workers, peer group or some TV talk show host to define and dictate who you are is likely to improve your life. That's because it's always better to be YOU, then someone you are not. And when others tell you what you can't do or accomplish, remember that your ability to make things happen has nothing to do with anyone else's opinion of what you're capable or incapable of doing.
Thomas Edison was kicked out of school in the sixth grade because his teachers thought he was a simpleton, unable to concentrate on his work. Albert Einstein was a patent clerk in Switzerland who spent his spare time fooling around with theories. Babe Ruth was sent to a work house because he parents couldn't afford to keep him. Considered incorrigible, he spent more time on the streets then anywhere else, but turned an interest in baseball into a fabulous career. Always overweight, even that didn't stop him from being one of the greatest baseball players and most famous people of his time. More people once knew who Babe Ruth was, then who the vice president of the United States or the Mayor of New York was! President Franklin D. Roosevelt dug our nation out of a terrible depression and helped to win a war fought on more fronts then any other time in history and he did it all from a wheelchair.
Each one of these famous people stepped out of their circumstances and stepped up to being individuals that would allow nothing to stand in the way of their accomplishments. So what are YOU waiting for?