I've noticed a trend. Lifestyle Labeling.
It's one of THE biggest deceptive distractions there is in our generation. It's so stealth, we might even miss it. For example, how often does anything along these lines happen in everyday conversation:
- "Oh, you like (insert observation)? you're so (insert label)"
"Wow! Everything in your house is (insert observation), you must be so (insert label)"
"You always dress like (insert observation), you're very (insert label)"
"You shop at (insert observation)?, that so (insert label) of you"
"You believe in (insert observation) when raising your children?
you must be one of those (insert label) kind of parents"
"You're doing (insert observation)?, you're totally one of those (insert label)"
...and the list could go on forever. Seems innocent and common right? We all do it.
We are a society quick to box in and label something. It's help us control and process what's around us. We not only do it to others, we do it to ourselves. We crave being able to identify with something. But it can also create a pressure to portray a certain style of life to prove who you are... even to yourself. It's practicing, purchasing or believing certain things with the motivation to fit within a label. The label dictates us instead of us living unique to our own path and purpose. You end up living a pretend version of your life, instead of a genuine one.
I notice this most in the area's of overall style, diet/food choices, faith, parenthood and general consumerism. Anything where we have the freedom to pick what we want and believe. What we pick becomes a symbol of expression, and in a society of twitter, facebook, blogs, and other social media, it creates an image reflection welcoming constant feedback and confirmation. And now people are all too aware of what reactions certain things create that they play right into the game without even realizing it's become why they do what they do.
Now there is some truth mixed up in all of this, THAT'S what makes it so deceptive and hard to recognize in our own life where the gray area turns to red. The bondage is not in feeling passionate about choosing something wisely knowing that you represent your beliefs by your actions, that's actually just good stewardship and firm resolve. The bondage is when a label is placed on you or you begin to consciously identify with a certain label as a guiding point. You let that label dictate your choices, allowing the fulfillment of that label to validate how we perceive our worth and purpose.
This seems to happen in women more than men. We are ambitious, inspired, multifaceted beings. We are passionate, care about things deeply, and think alot. (And that's not to say men don't, but we express and process things differently.) So sometimes we get so caught up in creating a lifestyle ideal or concept of what something says about who we are, that we think of it as an all or nothing game when making decisions or appreciating what we already have. That everything in every area of our lives has to be a certain way or fit a certain criteria before we can feel content and accomplished. THAT is the biggest lie we fall for. We can't do things for effect, for reaction and to keep up with some invisible marker of success or standard. Otherwise our peace will always be in someone else's validation of what you're presenting to them. It's like constantly seeking approval without even realizing it. Living like that takes away from being who we really are, fulfilling our unique purpose and living contently.
Like what you like, do what you believe God is telling you do. Don't worry about what type of woman or mom liking or doing something makes you, make your choices based on your preference, beliefs and priorities. Too many of us fall into unconsciously feeding an image of ourselves that we are trying to maintain and it can quickly become competitive. I know I personally like certain things that would "cross label" or contradict a label placed on me... and i'm totally cool with that. I can do something and know its a good and healthy decision and be content with it without feeling like i'm failing to fit into a perceived label category that goes along with that object, style or decision because other things I do don't fit neatly into the accompanying stereotype.
We live in a highly connected society, and at times too much influence or inspiration can be a hindrance to learning our own personality, preferences, and creativity. It can be the best feeling ever to take some time away from all social media, and see what you gravitate to when you have nobody but yourself to react to it. Nobody to comment, nobody to take pictures for, nobody to impress. You're not comparing your choices or having them influenced by everything else you see or hear.
Think about some of the labels you've identified with and if a lot of what you do is based on maintaining that. Be peaceful in who you are and what your unique life encompasses. You're a work of art. And everyone else is another unique work of art, so let's give others the space to be peaceful in who they are too. The most adventurous and unique people break molds, they don't chip away at who they are to fit ones that are already made.