In Emulation of A. Van Jordan’s “from”
noun. 1. A piece of paper, either bleached to a sterile white or ranging in neon colors reminiscent of 1980s workout clothing, that is attached to an item in order to organize and classify its purpose. Note: this same piece of paper typically chips away, loses its stickiness, or becomes so drowned in dust, that the work of labeling becomes futile. 2. A word that intends to describe an individual, a group, etc. and can either be useful or harmful. Examples of self-gifted empowering labels include: female, student, creative, kind, hard-working. Examples of given degrading labels include: weak, overbearing, vulnerable, just a child, naïve. These examples are fairly tame, yet it should be understood that labels could either help you or harm you. 3. A concrete item that you are in a love-hate relationship with. Begins with your pre-pubescent desire to label everything in your baby pink bedroom and closet. Boxes containing novelties from mechanical #2 pencils to acrylic nail polishes to your Nintendo D.S. with the decaying cover of cartoon canines. Extends all the way to the monogrammed stamp your parents reluctantly bought for you at Disney World, a reluctance that was understandable as you punched the stamp into the grain of every wooden furniture piece in your bedroom. You still see the cursive “IMG” branded in hot pink on the worktop of your desk. Finishes with you realizing that every single item in these four childish walls is unable to be classified and stored away, the realization leaving you with a bitter pout on your face as you stare at the silver and square Brother label maker that your mom bought just so you would stop stamping your authorship onto wooden furniture. 4. An abstract item that you are in a love-hate relationship with. Begins with your exposure to standardized tests in the 2nd grade, a bundle known as the SATs, not to be confused with the pre-college exam that swings like a pendulum, either sparing you of its weight or severing you from attending an Ivy League institution. Labels appear on standardized tests in several forms, those including (1) the small, white square bearing an anagram of numbers and letters that separate your course pack from the rest, (2) the questions you bubble in prior to the actual examination, which include gender, race, ethnicity, grade, and so forth, (3) the sticky paper that you wrap around the test booklet with pleasure, sealing away your stress and the past hour’s markings. Extends to the use of social media sites and encountering fellow users, with their about me descriptions and biographical links detailing their ages, sexualities, MBTI types, and what Hogwarts house they belong to. You look at your about me description, which lacks all of those labels except your age, a number that you were constantly reprimanded for sharing, as it is private and not for virtual strangers. That number allows you to separate yourself against the young and old of fandoms, but the rest of the information you’re lacking, and not disclosing. Sexuality? Sounds like a label you don’t want to face quite yet. Hogwarts house? You never got into Harry Potter as a kid, what would be the point. MBTI type? At last, a label that is neither fear inducing or too revealing. It’s safe, you think as you Google search a free MBTI test online. It’s safe. Finishes with an unfinished sense of self-labeling, that you haven’t completely found every part of yourself to stick a word to.
photo credit belongs to me