When I was in college, one of my friends said she thought she saw me the week before in the commons at Ohio State University. However, she realized it wasn't me when they heard the words out of the young woman's mouth as she pulled out a cigarette,lit it, and took a puff. "Char, I could swear that she looks just like you. She's your twin!" I assured her that I wasn't at the commons at that time and I didn't have a twin sister, nor a sister for that matter. It was a case of mistaken identity.
We've all heard them. "I'm diabetic", "I'm celiac", or "I'm ADD". Sounds normal, doesn't it? Honestly, I find it disturbing. There seems to be some confusion about who we are with what we have. Just because it seems "normal", doesn't make it right. Our issues certainly do affect our lives, but they should never define who we are. Sometimes with our identities tied to our issues, we are held back from doing amazing things. There are plenty of success stories that astound people in the news. The people in those stories refused to allow labels to limit them.
Why do we label ourselves? Why do we define our identities by our illnesses, disorders and other issues? Here are a few thoughts:
Labels give community.
We feel better if we don't feel alone in our struggles. We seek out others who are like "us". Groups can be helpful when members listen and share suggestions for what helps them cope. It becomes a huge roadblock to success, though, if the group commiserates. After all, misery loves company.
Labels give status.
Sometimes people find a level of status in their "identity". Celiac disease has gained quite a following lately. Even people who don't have it try going gluten-free for "health" and begin identifying with people who have celiac and gluten-sensitivity when they have never seen a doctor for it. By joining the group, they find acceptance and attention, even when it's not warranted.
Labels give excuses.
There certainly is credence to giving people with limitations and illnesses accommodations. A need must be met. Fairness is giving people what they need so they have the opportunity to succeed. However, I have a saying, "There may be an explanation, but there is no excuse...." Because something is difficult or someone wants an exception is not a reason for not doing one's part toward a solution.
Free yourself to be who you really are.
When we discover who God created us to be, we learn to appreciate ourselves in our real identity. We don't need labels to define us. I am not fibromyalgia, although I have the condition. You are not fat, instead you are a special creation of God's who may be overweight. He or she is not ADD/HD, he or she is an intelligent,special creation of God's with unique traits to contribute to society; however, they may have ADD which creates challenges in life. God has uniquely designed you with no copies. You are an original masterpiece!
The effects of original sin have all of made their mark on creation, giving us interesting limits and issues. Don't allow them to rob you of the joy in who you really are. Take the time to write down all of the positive qualities about yourself. Place them where you can remind yourself every day of who you really are. If that is hard for you, have someone who knows you well whom you trust do this for you. Don't get your identity confused with the wrong things. Appreciate who God created you to be!
May God bless you!