On those standardized tests, I always have to fill in the bothersome bubble sheets…I fill in the name section, contact info, race/ethnicity, and occasionally come across the [usually] optional religion portion. OK, fine. I scan the sheet, looking for the word “Christian.” There is none. Instead, I have to mull through Methodist, Pentecostal, Lutheran, Latter-Day Saint, Presbyterian, Anglican, and maybe even Puritan. Annoyed, I immediately fill in the bubble for “Other.”
If you check on my Facebook profile under “Religious Views,” I identify as Christian. Which I am. But if I’m speaking freely (which I am, this being my blog), I’m not entirely satisfied with this simplistic label, because I adhere to other life philosophies too. I don’t like labels, because of all the assumptions about me that come with it.
Of course, this goes with anything. I dislike simplistic religious labels, personality labels, IQ labels, appearance labels, etc.
On one occasion, I was having a conversation about pretty much everything you can imagine with some people whom I now consider my close friends. Street smarts versus book smarts, the concept of rationality, and personality quirks were among the topics. Mid-conversation, one of my friends says something along the lines of “I don’t know who I am, guys.”
Which birthed an even more enlightening debate.
My almost-immediate response? “I know who I am in the fact that I have no idea who I am,” leading to this conclusion: I am a crossword – one who is still trying to figure it all out.
If you’ve ever taken the Myers-Briggs personality test, you’ll know that it gives you a pretty good idea of how you tend to see the world and react to the things in it. For example, I am an INTJ – introvert, iNtuitive, thinker, judger (not judgmental!). But even if there’s truth to this, I refuse to exist within the confines of yet another simplification.
Like the Starburst candy, I’m a contradiction – I think we all are, to varying degrees. Introvert yes, though without my standard filter, the opposite could be assumed. Takes a certain kind of person to catch me without a filter, though. As much as I like to be in control of every aspect of my life via pocket calendar, I do enjoy healthy amounts of spontaneity. While I am organized, my notebooks tend not to be; always graffitied by a series of doodles, to-do lists, and wistful words in the margins. And though I like to think I consistently abide by the laws of logic, my actions may indicate otherwise. I mean, who hasn’t made the mistake of putting aluminum in the microwave. No? Well, just me then.
The conclusion being, don’t live in a box. It’s terribly boring to fit into just one space. And even worse than boring is…normal. Ick.
Whoever you are out there, I highly encourage you to be anything but ordinary. And that means not trying to define everything about yourself. Nothing’s perfect, and not everything is meant to have a label slapped across it. The label won’t last long anyway, because the crosswords that we are will become more completed with words as we keep evolving as people.
In the words of the late Marilyn Monroe, “Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius, and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.”