Labeling Myself

Emily Hwang - Ecuador

July 10, 2012

I do this thing where I label myself- Extrovert, ENFP, Sagittarius, Advocate, Actress, Girl.  Every trait or behavior that I have ever manifested, every emotion that I have ever experienced has been thoroughly analyzed and neatly placed into one of the myriad categories that I use to define myself.  And if it doesn’t fit, it isn’t valid.

For the most part, I have no problems.  If anything, my obsession with compartmentalizing myself often gives people the impression that I’m special.  I’m frequently dubbed as “self-aware” and occasionally sought out for my “insight and intuitive nature.”  The truth is, I hide behind my labels.  They mask a desperate craving for control and constant understanding, a fear of change, and a lack of faith in the universe/my own abilities.  With the labels, I become hyper- aware of my motives and desires and this self-accountabiltiy relieves me.  Why? Because I do not believe I can lead a successful life if I just let myself be.

There are times when I actually fool myself into thinking that I have it—that is, myself and my place in the world—all figured out.  But of course, I don’t.  No matter how many hours I spend taking personality tests, no matter how often I brainstorm all of my possible life courses, no matter how sure I am of the person I am today, everything could shift in an instant…

…which terrifies me.  But it’s also the very reason I’m taking this gap year.  I’m taking a year to be uncomfortable, to step boldly into the flames of confusion, to challenge and surpass what I know to be my limits.  Most of all, I’m taking a year to start from scratch- to put myself in an entirely new context and become secure in the person I am, without the labels.  Of course, I will also be exploring my passions, learning a language, forming relationships, and allowing the world to expand my humanity.  But at the root of it all, I am taking a year to let myself be.

And I am VERY excited.

Emily Hwang