Labels, Language and Living Out Loud When You Feel Lost
Last week, I ran a workshop to a group of 16-year-olds (more on the topic later).
One, in particular, was fixated on how confused and lost she felt.
"I need to figure out what I want to do. I have to choose before I go to college." She said with panic in her voice. I told her the exact same thing Gary Vaynerchuk once said.
As it's completely normal to feel this way. Especially still so young, "You have time." I reassured her.
Once she tries on, a whack of things, she'll know immediately. It will become easier to decipher what you really want and what you don't need.
Life paths are not usually straight or narrow.
Look at me, I started in Social Work and ended up in Marketing!? Who knew a shy girl who grew up in Toronto Public Housing would be teaching people how to be social online!?!
It certainly didn't happen overnight, like we sometimes think success appears. I did a whack of things. I did all the things. And I wanted this young group to know, it's okay if you don't know right this minute. You will.
This workshop with the 16-year-olds on, "Reframing How Black Youth are Depicted in the Media Through Identity Writing" was a way to help them re-imagine their own future. (You-can-take-the-girl-out-of-social-work-but-you-can't-take-the-social-work-out-of-the-girl).
In an effort to help them express their frustration and feelings, I gave them a crash course on poetry writing.
It's one of the tools I use when, very often, the thoughts get stuck in my head and need a paper & pen outlet. A space to crawl onto and deem home.
Here's what one student wrote (in under 2 minutes):
We see through the same two eyes/ breathe through the same two lungs/ and walk through life with the same two feet/ we're all the same, all human./ Labels are just that...labels.
As a side note: I want you to know, these students are smarter than us. Not only must they tackle high school crushes and uncool parents —they're also faced with the political turmoil of this era. Regardless, the future is in HD.
It's then, I knew —they get it.
The labels that are placed on us are just labels. We also pinpointed, this is where we get stuck most of the time.
When your loved ones tell you how you should act. It's not hard to feel trapped. When the media constantly tells you who you should be. It's not hard to understand why anyone could get lost. That's when honest language helps us to express the frustrations of the labels we wish not to carry anymore. It's there, right in that moment of truth, we can truly live out loud in our world.
Listen, this is not an intervention campaign just for 16-year-olds. The same goes for the adults. Whether you're in your 20's, 30's, 40's or 50's...
You have the right to choose and choose again —when you find out it's not what you need (whatever "it" is).
Just use honest language, "You’re not lost in life...You’re just early in the process".