Have you ever been labeled as something by a friend, family member, or stranger? For me, it started when I was a teenager. I would overhear conversations, or even be introduced as a ‘free spirit.’ From some, it felt like a compliment, from others a judgement.
Due to regularly hearing this label, I began to adopt these two words and would even label myself as a ‘free spirit’ from time-to-time. But then I started noticing that I would feel good or bad about myself depending on the context of the label.
It felt good to be called a free spirit when someone meant I was carefree, happy, open-minded, and interested in living my life outside the common social constructs. I felt they meant I made my own rules, going with the flow and living in the moment. What they didn’t realize is that this was creating a story that I began to judge myself and others by.
This became especially apparent when someone would label me as a free spirit in a negative way. The words were usually accompanied by a roll of the eyes or a shrug of the shoulders. I felt their words separating me from social circles, and even my own family at times. I often felt separate or alone, like no one understood me except my fellow ‘free spirits.’
The worst part was that I began to judge the eye-rollers and the shoulder-shruggers, creating more space and divide between us. I’m sure you can see how this cycle can go on-and-on, and also how it can translate out of our personal lives and into the terrible global conflicts that face us today.
In search for freedom from this cycle of judgement, I recognized that the labels came from a place of confusion, fear, or insecurity. I longed for a shift in this negativity personally and globally, and I knew the change had to begin within myself.
What this meant for me was that I had to create my own personal definition of the label ‘free spirit.’ That way, when someone used those words in relation to me it was neither good or bad…it just was.
My definition of free spirit became:
(n.) 1. one who is free to follow love, and her intuition, in mind, body, and spirit
2. one who is not limited by time or physical space
3. one who is connected to infinite love.
My new personal definition actually became something I was/am proud of being. I defined my own label and received it as a compliment ALWAYS. It didn’t matter if the person was judging me positively or negatively. I knew I couldn’t ever control that.
Now from a place of non-judgement for all people (even those who my personal beliefs are different from), I am at peace with myself, my family, and anyone who ever labeled me a free spirit. I now say, “Thank you!” when those two words are uttered because I have reclaimed them as my own and empowered them with my own definition.
I understand it can be challenging to not take personally the names or labels that people use to define us, but I hope this post has inspired you to write your own definitions and live life by your own terms . . . you know, in true free spirit style *wink*!
Have you ever been labeled as something? How did it make you feel? How can you shift the definition of this label to make it your own? Share your experience below!