Believe it or not, we live in a very orderly society.

We have easy to use labels for gender, race, religion and political affiliation. We have labels that identify what country we live in and titles at the end of our names to highlight our educational levels.

We like order and we understand the visual cues that help us answer basic questions like what gender someone is. But if we’ve learned as gender identity continues to evolve in our culture, is that things are not always what they seem. Just because someone looks a certain way doesn’t define who they are.

They get to define who they are. Even if that means using no labels at all.

Gender is just one example of a label that may not fit. We get to choose our paths and label ourselves any way we want. That may seem like a hard concept to unlearn. But once you give up trying to put yourself into a box, your whole world can open up.

You Are Not Your Label

I’ve only had a few huge ah-ha moments in my life. One of the biggest was from Eckhart Tolle’s simple thoughts on how we are not our labels. In A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose, Tolle explains:

“Give up defining yourself - to yourself or to others. You won't die. You will come to life. And don't be concerned with how others define you. When they define you, they are limiting themselves, so it's their problem. You can only lose something that you have, but you cannot lose something that you are.”

I was a sleep deprived and overwhelmed young mom. I was struggling and was challenged every day by some new issue. I lost the sense of who I was and somehow morphed into this other person. But Tolle’s words stopped me in my tracks: I am not defined by any of my labels.

Being a mother isn’t the sum of my parts. Being a mother is just one of my many roles and isn’t the essence of who I am. It’s obviously a huge part of my heart and life and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Yet, it is so empowering to understand that I am so much more than that.

It’s Okay to Be Unique

I was raised Catholic. I can still recite the Profession of Faith even though I left the church years ago. There is obviously nothing wrong with being Catholic or Christian. Yet, for me, it was one of the most limiting labels I’ve ever had. I tried to fit into those boxes and it never quite felt right.

After I left the church and realized that Christianity didn’t really define me either. I searched and searched for my new box - some simply defined group to belong to. Something that identified me because I thought that’s what I had to do. And I was wrong.

We don’t have to fit into any box. We can create our path even if no one else understands what or why. As Ella Gibbons shares her energy work philosophy:

“I have a visualization practice that works for me and helps me focus whatever intentions I want to share. I can explain what I see and the energies I connect with, but this is a personal practice. What works for me probably won’t work for you. I connect with a universal source in a place that’s unique to me.”

It’s okay to have your own vision of who you are. Even if that means you no longer fit neatly into anyone else’s categories.

Break Free from Your Labels

I didn’t know I could stop being a Catholic. It sounds crazy now, but I didn’t understand at the time. I just thought that was who I was.

Yet, when you drop limiting labels, it opens the possibility to grow and explore. There is nothing wrong with being a Catholic or Christian, but those labels don’t fit me personally. They didn’t make me feel happy or fulfilled. I love being a mother, but that is not the only thing I am. I am so much more than just a woman, wife and mother. I am Liesha.

You know the labels that limit you and the ones that don’t feel quite right.What would happen if you suddenly stopped trying to fit the definition of these labels?

What if you just started being you?

Author's Bio: 

Liesha's a writer by day and Kyokushin Black Belt by night. She's the author of Killing Rapunzel: Learning How to Save Yourself Through Determination, Grit, and Self-Employment (her mother hates the title - but it's a metaphor mom!). She talks freelancing adventures at Microbusiness Essentials