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Peculiar Okafor: Labels Are Not Us



dreamstime_l_28835478A few weeks ago, I listened in on a conversation between my friends.  They were of the opinion that one of us should pick a side. Now, this friend in question was a proponent of the achieving woman, who believed in not taking crap from anyone. She also believes that it is a woman’s God given right to be spent on. My friends argued that she could not be the proponent of the strong woman and still expect to be spent on by a man. It made her ‘bi-polar’. The girl’s response paraphrased below struck a chord in me

‘Is your life so uneventful that all you do is try to put a label on me? Why do I have to pick a side? Why can’t I just be me with the things I will and will not take while you just stay doing you?’

Now, it got me thinking about how we try to put labels on people. It started from school, ‘the blubbers’, ‘the smart ones’, ‘the cool kids’, ‘the bad girls’, ‘the jonzers’ etc and we’ve taken this habit of putting labels on people into adulthood.

I won’t be idealistic to say these labels should completely be removed; but most times, labels get us to miss the best of others and even ourselves. Imagine giving yourself a label that says ‘I’m serious minded’ and then spending your entire life trying to prove that point subconsciously losing out of the parts of you that are fun or you labeling someone ‘a bad girl’ and so never relating with them.

In labeling others, we miss out on the opportunity to love them, understand them, empathize with them and indeed learn from them. We also get into lots of unnecessary arguments trying to prove a point and convert others. (All these ‘Team natural’; ‘Team synthetic hair’; ‘Team light skinned’; ‘Team dark skinned’. Y’all just take a deep breath).

What about the labels we place on people we don’t even know or have never met?

In labelling ourselves and holding on to it, we lose the opportunity to evolve and grow into parts of ourselves that we never knew existed.

Life is a marathon and people change and grow everyday. Sometimes too, the labels we put on people are dependent on our view of life. It’s like the joke of the Harvard scholar who got into the NBA and said ‘At Harvard, they called me a jock, in the NBA, I was called a scholar’.

A bit like me, in secondary school. I was the crazy, fun, tomboy who won debates and never spoke pidgin or any Nigerian language. At the university, I was the girl who contested in the pageants, organized shows, did a bit of modelling and fell in love with Igbo. Yeah, there was the gist that I only dated guys who had cars.

There are good labels to go by though: ‘chivalrous’, ‘respectful’, ‘beautiful’ (and I’m referring to inner beauty here) etc.

Each human being has been given a name and that is the one label we should go by (except you give yourself another and insist we call you that, we will).
Love, live, explore, minimize your weakness and maximize your strengths.
In all, make the best of this exciting ride called life. Don’t let any label hold you down.

PS: David Cameron’s ‘Fantastically corrupt‘  label is one we reject in Jesus’ name. *winks*

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

Peculiar is a Marketing communications personnel, she believes that one can have a full life without being bitchy and she wants it all 'A good career, love, laughter, wealth, you name it. She blogs at Follow her on Instagram @daworkdiva and Facebook ''


  1. Dr Rachel Naomi Remen

    May 13, 2016 at 3:05 pm

    Labeling sets up an expectation of life that is often so compelling we can no longer see things as they really are. The expectation often gives us a false sense of familiarity toward something that is really new and unprecedented. We are in relationship with our expectations and not with life itself.
    … a label is an attempt to assert control and manage uncertainty. It may allow us the security and comfort of a mental closure and encourage us not to think about things again. But life is known only by those who have found a way to be comfortable with change and the unknown. Given the nature of life, there may be no security, but only adventure.

  2. Abuja Bored Girl

    May 13, 2016 at 11:15 pm

    I agree with you Peculiar,labeling people is wrong. You just box them to a particular thing without really getting to know who they really are.


    May 15, 2016 at 12:12 am

    @Peculiar. why the “”winks””?


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