“…I am my adolescent travels; I am what my reading has deposited in layers in my mind; I am my loves, my moments of despair, my friendships, what I’ve written, what I’ve heard; the faces engraved on my memory. I am, above all, the one who a minute ago made a cup of tea for himself. The one who a moment ago typed the word “memory” into his computer. The one who just composed the sentence that I am now completing. If all this disappeared, would I still exist? I am this long, ongoing novel. My life consists of it.”
― Carlo Rovelli
I could identify as many things. It depends on which story a person has heard about me that would cause them to quickly identify me in a camp as well. “Aubrey- the blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah….”
Depending on the relationship, experience, time of interaction, type of interaction, or voyeuristic access a person has been given to me, their “blah blah blahs” will be different than others “blah blah blahs” about me. Wild.
What are some of the “camps” or groupings of identifiers you would give me? How does it change the way you read this piece? What bias do you have? Interesting right?
*sidebar: this topic is DEEP. I am only scratching the surface today*
What is an identifier: “a name that identifies (that is, labels the identity of) either a unique object or a unique class of objects, where the “object” or class may be an idea, physical countable object (or class thereof), or physical non-countable substance (or class thereof)… An identifier may be a word, number, letter, symbol, or any combination of those.”
What are some identifiers most people would be familiar with? Here is a really condensed list. But a VERY good place to start.
–Sexuality: LGBTQIA2S+++ (the plus really has a LOT more to it here.) Kinsey scale of sexuality. 0-6. 0 meaning exclusively heterosexual. 6 meaning exclusively homosexual. Most people fall in the ranges between 1-5.
–Gender: Cis, Non Binary, Trans, Male, Female, Demigender, G.E., Intersex, Dyadic and about 50 more.
–Race: United States Census limits all races under 5 groups: Asian, Black, White, Mixed, Other. Anthropologists everywhere will love diving into Race and Ethnicity. I think it is wise for everyone to do this at least once in their life. Spend a good week researching these two things across history and what people across the world have to use to identify “race/ethnicity.”
–Age: (child, pre-teen, young adult, adult, elderly) *melinnial, gen z, gen x, boomer… etc*
–Beliefs: Religious, Spiritual, Political, Ethical…etc.
–Social Status: Fame, Power, Influence…
–Appearance: Symmetry, proportions, height, weight, conformity to beauty standards or not, clothing, hairstyle, gender presenting, skin, posture, and SO many more!
–Financial Status: perceived wealth, known wealth, perceived poverty, known poverty. Middle class dynamics, etc.
–Occupation: in this case we’ll be simple and say it is “what a person does to obtain money.”
–Location: where a person is from, where they have lived and where they live now.
–Personality Traits: introvert/extrovert. Enneagram results. Meyers Briggs. Sanguine, Choleric, melancholy, phlegmatic. Astrology signs. Characteristic public portrayals like: outgoing, sociable, wallflower, shy. Etc etc etc.
–Public Records: accomplishments, accolades, awards searchable for public knowledge. Mistakes, misdemeanors, felonies searchable for public knowledge.
–Education: Highest level of completion. What topics studied. Where. How many degrees. In what. Etc.
–Known Interests: Social Media helps show this one. travel, food, fashion, animals, crafting, partying, writing, reading, so many more!
–Relationship Status: mother, father, son, daughter, cousin, aunt, uncle, grandparent, married, single, dating, divorced, separated,…or my personal favorite- “it’s complicated.” *when is it NOT*
I look at these categories. As many would say: boxes. SO. MANY. BOXES. and inside each box are more boxes. On each box are labels. Many don’t understand the labels meanings. Many with labels don’t agree with what has been given to them. Wow. This sounds messy. The irony.
Ok sweet thing. Lets take a moment and just BREATHE…..
*in for four, out for four*
I get why humans want to identify. I really do. We give names to EVERYTHING. All of these words you are reading and understanding are made up and have agreed upon meaning. It helps us make sense of things. We do NOT enjoy the unknown. In fact, there is a wonderful article I’ll link here showing multiple scientific research how adverse humans are (at a neurochemical level) to uncertainty. How evolutionarily we really want to feel “certain” and how this can be a very big conflict in an otherwise ever changing world.
My proposition is that we label. Because it is what humans do.
We just do it in smarter, kinder and healthier ways. We evolve by:
1) using another marker in our labeling
2) acquiring a more expansive vocabulary and
3) gaining greater awareness of our feelings and beliefs about all the labels.
Ex: I think it would be SO WISE to label each other with dry erase marker on a board, rather than rub a dub sharpie on a cardboard box.
We’re we given labels the minute we came into the world. We belonged to people, we had a name, we were given a gender, a race, many were given a religion, all are given a belief system.
LABEL, LABEL, LABEL, LABEL, LABEL….
Again, I don’t vilify labeling.
I vilify prejudice, condemnation, hate, and abuse to anyone because of a label they have been given, or they have chosen that isn’t “agreed with” or “accepted.”
Most days, I feel like an incredibly layered Russian doll. The catch is that there is a factory of different shells we can choose from. It is OUR choice what layers we tack on and take off or replace the older, more experienced, and more educated we become.
I wish at my core that I could identify as: “Me” and you could identify as: “You” and we just all had the patience and curiosity to figure out what that means for each individual person.
I’m not living in utopia. I understand that. We will label, we will classify, we will categorize, we will box, we will judge, we will assess, we will discern….we will use our senses to make sense of what we deem sensible or senseless.
I just wish for everyone that we would stay open. Open to the freedom of being walking paradoxes. Open to ranges and scales and movement. Open to the idea that time, knowledge, and experience creates new labels for some and closes old labels for others. Open to the fact that some labels take time to fine tune and find, and some take time to get rid of if it isn’t accurate for the person. I hope for a world that allows space for more made up words to help identify people with beautiful tapestries of nuanced (not standard) beliefs, insides, outsides, and desires.
All of these words you have read were made up once. What is the threat of new more clear words that help a person feel more seen, more accurately represented to a world of “identifying identifiers.”
I want to show you fragments and layers of me… “Aubrey” in every piece I write.
*What has been, what is now, and then let you come with me on what is to be. There will never be anyone with all the layers and life experience and identifying combo like mine. That is true for every single person.*
That is true for you.
I hope we can be more curious and let our labels be written in something that is at least erasable and able to change.
As always sweet *thing*,