I've been thinking a lot lately about labels. More importantly, I've been thinking about labels that we give ourselves. When am I a (insert label here)? I know that we can all relate to this whether we really think about it or not. Name one person that has gone through their teenage years and into their twenties without asking themselves "Am I an adult now?" So how do you know when you are something? Does it really matter if you can apply that label to yourself or not? I know that I have asked myself questions about my own status with many labels. Am I a teacher? Am I really a husband? Am I a father? Am I a writer? Part of my mind tells me that the answers to these things should be obvious because others change that status for us. When a principal hires you, doesn't that make you a teacher? When the preacher pronounces you man and wife or the doctor tell you that it's a boy or girl, doesn't that automatically make you a husband or father? Another part of my mind argues against this. It would be the same as someone else changing your relationship status on Facebook. Don't I get to choose that?
I wondered for a while if I would get to think of myself as a teacher. Getting a job as a Social Studies teacher can sometimes be a very difficult thing. My first two jobs were both interim positions, and I couldn't make myself believe that I was a teacher knowing that I wouldn't necessarily be back in the classroom when the new year started. Like many others, it took a long time after the vows for it to truly sink in that I was married. Still, there came a point in time that I stopped asking myself if I fit the label of a teacher or husband. Maybe it was after the first student thanked me for teaching them...or after I thanked them for teaching me. At some point, I never wondered if I was a teacher anymore. I simply knew that I was. Maybe I accepted that I was a husband when I realized I didn't care where I wound up, as long as I wound up with her we could find a way to make it work. As for the label of "father", I think that we all need to change that permanently to "father-in-training." I doubt we ever truly will stop learning how to be a father...myself especially.
I guess that, in the end, I have found that these labels are very important, but only to ourselves. Some of my friends and family call me a writer, but I still don't label myself that. I don't think that I have earned it. They argue about it with me, and I don't think that it matters to them the way that it matters to me. Anyone could have labeled me a husband, teacher, or father just by looking at public records. However, I didn't consider myself worthy until a certain point, and I still just consider myself a father-in-training. I think that we need to give ourselves these labels as a way of finding our own self-worth. As for when the labels truly apply...I think that if you are still asking yourself, then the label doesn't apply yet. Only when you truly stop worrying about a label do you truly become whatever it is that you seek.
Wow...that's almost deep...I think I better take a nap now.