Saturday, December 15, 2007

Let It Go*

" Let it go. Let it go / This is smaller than you know / No bigger than a pebble lying on a gravel road"

Laurel's comment on my recent 32 Flavors post got me thinking [Danger, Will Robinson!]. She said, "It seems to me what you're getting at here is not the desire to shed all labels, because that would remove some of the wonderful 'Cookieness' that we all know and love, but rather expand on the fantastic foundation that is present and to remove the boundaries of any things that you feel are limiting you."

Oh, but on some level, I do have a desire to shed all labels. I've been kicking around this identity issue for years; I've posted before about my aversion to labels. With labels, you see, come expectations. I've realized how often I put undue expectations on myself and others because of labels, so I'm trying to break myself out of labeling. Or at least attaching expectations to labels. Maybe it's just me, but I tend to live up to labels I'm given, consciously or not. When I catch myself acting in a way that doesn't feel natural, that feels like I'm only living up to a label, I figure out how to shed that label right-quick.

One of the labels I've been trying to shed for years is "feminist". Once I accept the label "feminist", then I should be offended by all the things that offend fellow feminists. Honestly, I don't have the kind of time or energy it takes to pucker my butt that much. For example, if I'm a true feminist, then I should apparently be in a white-hot rage over Confessions of a Part-Time Sorceress: A Girl's Guide to Dungeons and Dragons. I haven't seen this book, but I've heard that feminist gamers are claiming it's horribly, catastrophically bad.

Ladies, how about a little perspective? Losing your family home in a devastating flood is horribly, catastrophically bad. Having a loved one die in your arms during a bloody civil war is horribly, catastrophically bad. This book is a marketing gimmick to attract new players to a niche game for geeks. This book is at worst only mildly, vaguely annoying. It is not invading your country or raping you and all your female relatives. It is not holding a gun to your head and forcing you to buy it. So, you know, GET A GRIP. But I digress...

Almost a decade ago, I had a disturbing dream where thousands of unseen hands were wrapping me tightly, using large strips of paper. On these strips were written all the labels that I felt I'd been assigned over the years: feminist, fierce Pinay, flower child, poet, activist, artist, leader, savior, Madonna, whore. I had the sensation of being trapped, suffocated. I wasn't sure I wanted to be all of these things; I wasn't even sure who decided I was any of those things. I only knew that I could become more, if only these labels weren't wrapped around me, encasing me in a cocoon that pinned my wings.

When I was decoding this dream, three questions came up:
1) Is this who I am or who everyone says I am?
2) Who do I want to become anyway?
3) Will it matter what I was to you when I discover what I am to myself?

These days, I believe the answer to #1 is "yes" and that is okay. But I want to become the woman I believe I can be, not who everyone else says I should/could be. It might matter what I was to you because I might surprise both of us when I discover what I am to myself.

"Let It Go" byGreat Big Sea * Updated the song 07/25/08; felt this was more appropriate.
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