I recently watched the movie Blindspotting, which takes place in Oakland. It was fun and interesting to see many familiar streets around the Town, and to witness the movie characters as they tried to navigate the gentrification that’s happening in the Bay Area. I won’t ruin the movie for you but will only say that there is a lot of subject material around identity and labels. I walked away from the movie reflecting on how I’ve struggled at times with the many labels and traits that make me who I am as person. I also thought about how natural it is to do a lot of questioning and searching as we try to figure out who we are while remembering that some of the ways in which we identify in this moment, can and may change in our lifetime.
As I’ve continued to reflect on the movie, I’ve thought about what it means to be something (whatever that may be) and the conflict that can arise within ourselves when that something is challenged by other people, or when other people assign a label or trait to us that we don’t agree with. For example, say you think of yourself as a generous person and then someone tells you that you’re a selfish person. It can make you feel crappy when someone tells you that you have a negative trait. We may feel discomfort and emotional pain when other people label us as something that we don’t identify as because the label can cause us to negatively question our awareness or thoughts about ourselves. These negative labels can have a lasting impact on us which can be hard for us to let go of.
I think it’s important and healthy to reflect on and challenge a label that someone else gives to us, that doesn’t feel right. Sometimes during our reflecting we realize that we need to do some work to grow into being a better person. While other times we get to practice not internalizing negative comments about us by other people. I do also think that it’s important and healthy for us to reflect on, and question, our own thoughts and perceptions about ourselves when a label is given to us by a person we know, trust and respect. I think it’s safe to say that because we as humans are so complex that we don’t always see or acknowledge all the traits that make us unique. Sometimes the people that we know, trust and respect can show us the parts of ourselves that we don’t see. These special people in our lives also provide us with the opportunity to learn more about ourselves and what makes us so unique.
Photo By Darius Bashar
Christina is a Psychotherapist in private practice in Oakland California.