Do you read labels? I do. I like to know what’s in the food I buy. I dutifully read instructions on clothing labels and check to see where things were manufactured.
It’s more difficult to read the labels we impose on ourselves and each other. You know the deal. You meet someone new in a work or social situation and often, but not always, they’ll ask, “What do you do?” Immediately their mental printer spits out a label for them to smack on your forehead. When someone asks, “Where are you from?” the same thing happens.
If you answer you’re from a huge European city you will be treated and thought of differently than a farmer from the mid-west. We do the same with peoples’ jobs and social lives.
I’m not saying we should stop asking people where they live or what they do for work. But I’d love it if we could take a new look at how we respond to the answers!
I despise the labels and preconceived notions pressed upon me whenever I answer one of those introductory questions with the fact that I’m a Mom. In fact I do not lead with or rarely mention that I am. When I do, the conversation always peters off, the people move on, and I lose out on good social and professional opportunities.
Yes, I know this makes me a hypocrite. I am guilty of responding to other mothers negatively – which is how I know about this. I am truly trying to be more aware and actively understanding of what others may be going through.