No more itchy labels

One of the world’s greatest innovations took place not too long ago in the fashion industry. Quietly behind the scenes, a truly brilliant person or design team came up with idea to stop sewing those itchy labels into the collar or waste band of our clothes and instead to just stamp the information somewhere on the inside fabric.

I don’t know about you, but before this innovation, every time I bought clothes my first order of business was to cut out those stupid itchy labels the minute I got home.

This is like that—like stupid itchy labels we need to cut out.

Labels keep life simple:

  • It’s a BOGO sale on shoes. Bring your discount card.
  • Thursday night is Open House.
  • Luggage over 50 lbs. costs more to check onto a flight.
  • He’s a graphic designer.

But things aren’t always simple:

  • If I miss the BOGO sale, can I still use my discount card?
  • Who will be at the Open House and what’s going to happen there?
  • What if my luggage is 50.5 lbs.? Can I still get the lower rate?
  • Is he good at digital design?

In the middle of everything we have to do, when our time is stretched paper thin, we want the quick, easy, slap-on label or answer even when it doesn’t technically fit, so we can check that thing off our list, and move on to whatever is screaming for our attention next.

Easy labels tend to be extremes: people are “great” or “awful” situations are “perfect” or “terrible” opportunities are “exciting” or “a total waste of time”…only highs and lows, winners and losers. Gray areas and details take thought and time we just don’t have.

The other day, my friend Janine got scorched by a client who told her, “Look, the speech you wrote for me was awful. I can’t use it. I’ll rewrite it myself.” No way was the whole speech awful—Janine’s got 10 years of experience, and she’s good—but it was easier for him to slap an “awful” label on the whole thing than it would be to take the time to parse the good parts from the ones he wanted to change.

The chance to change
And though clear labels keep life organized and easy (I mean think of the chaos if we had “STOP-only-if-you’re-in-the-mood signs” or prescription labels that said, “Take twice a day-ish,” they can be really dangerous when it comes to us. They can make us feel stuck:

  • “I’m so unorganized.”
  • “I’m always late.”
  • “I can’t dance.”
  • “I’m a bad cook.”
  • “I’m just a bookkeeper. I could never do anything else.”
  • “I have a bad temper.”

None of these are permanent conditions. None of them. But if we say them often enough, and we allow other people to say them about us, or we agree with them, they sure sound permanent.

The truth is, beautiful someone, easy labels are wrong, or more precisely, they may be true today, but they’re not permanent conditions. There’s always a chance to change. You may be unorganized today, but you can fix that with some folders and a label maker. So you’re not a great cook? Buy some cookbooks and take a class. Can’t dance? Everyone can dance. Sick of bookkeeping? Start looking for another job. Philosopher and poet Søren Kierkegaard once said, “When you label me, you negate me.” Exactly. So let’s not.

35 thoughts on “No more itchy labels

  1. When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get several e-mails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove people from that service? Many thanks!

    • Diana Davin

      Hi Alexia,

      I’m sure there’s a way. Let me contact my admin and see how to do this!

      Thanks for commenting!


    • Diana Davin

      Hello Alexia, you’ll need to turn off those notifications yourself. Please complete the following:

      In the notification emails, you should see a link to “Manage Subscriptions.” By clicking on that link, you will have the option to remove your subscription to the comments on that page.

  2. Having read this I thought it was really enlightening. I appreciate you spending some time and effort to put this short article together. I once again find myself personally spending a lot of time both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still worthwhile!

  3. Hello there! This blog post could not be written any better! Looking at this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He continually kept preaching about this. I’ll send this post to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I simply want to tell you that I am newbie to blogs and actually loved you’re website. More than likely I’m want to bookmark your blog post . You certainly have impressive writings. Kudos for sharing with us your webpage.

  5. I must thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this site. I really hope to see the same high-grade content from you in the future as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my very own blog now 😉

  6. This is the right webpage for everyone who wishes to find out about this topic. You understand a whole lot its almost tough to argue with you (not that I actually will need to…HaHa). You certainly put a brand new spin on a topic that’s been written about for many years. Excellent stuff, just wonderful!

  7. Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude! Thank you, However I am encountering issues with your RSS. I don’t know why I am unable to join it. Is there anyone else having identical RSS problems? Anyone who knows the solution will you kindly respond? Thanx!!

  8. Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon on a daily basis. It’s always exciting to read content from other authors and practice something from other sites.

  9. Hi there, I do believe your website could possibly be having internet browser compatibility issues. Whenever I take a look at your website in Safari, it looks fine however, when opening in IE, it’s got some overlapping issues. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other than that, great blog!

  10. It’s a pity you don’t have a donate button! I’d without a doubt donate to this superb blog! I suppose for now i’ll settle for bookmarking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to brand new updates and will share this website with my Facebook group. Chat soon!

  11. Can I simply just say what a relief to discover somebody who genuinely understands what they’re talking about online.
    You definitely realize how to bring a problem to light and
    make it important. A lot more people have to check this out
    and understand this side of your story. I was
    surprised that you are not more popular since you definitely possess the gift.

  12. I would like to thank you for the efforts you’ve put in writing this site.
    I am hoping to check out the same high-grade blog posts by you in the future as well.
    In truth, your creative writing abilities has encouraged me to get my own site now 😉

  13. Have you ever considered about including a little bit more than just your articles? I mean, what you say is important and everything. However think of if you added some great pictures or video clips to give your posts more, “pop”! Your content is excellent but with pics and video clips, this blog could certainly be one of the most beneficial in its field. Excellent blog!

  14. Hello! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a collection of volunteers and starting a new project in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us beneficial information to work on. You have done a extraordinary job!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *