I believe people are not cans of soup, nor should they be deceived into being one. You see, how someone is labeled does not always truly reflect who that individual is.
Growing up as a kid I was labeled the nerd in school because quite honestly, I looked the part. I was a tall and lanky “four-eyed-brace-face” with glasses that somehow were always bent or broken and braces. Other kids in school gave me a pretty hard time. For the most part, I could shrug off what they would say or did, but after a while, the constant verbal and sometimes physical abuse began to get in my head. This caused me to start to view myself as how others saw me, and not who I knew I was.
Like that reindeer we all know so well, Rudolph, I longed to be accepted just as I was. Poor ol’ Rudolph was not allowed to play in any reindeer games and was picked on because of his shiny nose, but once his unique ability was recognized and appreciated, others began to love and respect him. They did not feel this way because he changed to meet their standards, they just learned to see him as he was.
I eventually had my braces taken off and converted to contacts, so my glasses would not break when I played sports, but it did not change my character. Once people gave me a chance to show them who I was, they realized I was not what I had been labeled all this time.
How those you come into contact with label you does not make your identity. That is for you to decide. Only you can choose who you are, and you should not let anyone else take that away from you.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.