Is your name your most important label?

For the passed five years I have been preoccupied with labeling myself. When you look at my resume, you’ll see I have described myself as a journalist, a poet, a copywriter, a storyteller, a brand digger, design-thinker and a concept developer.

But none of these were satisfying, because what do these things really mean? What do they say about me?

Today I have decided I am done with these labels.

My first and foremost important label is my name. It truly stands for who I am and what I do. It is my premium brand, my best claim, my strongest and most authentic reference to my identity.

And I am proud of it.

Whenever I decided to put a label under my name I sentenced myself to becoming unhappy. I instantly raised expectations I couldn’t live up to and I only cared about fulfilling a role, about realizing an almost utopic stereotype.

In doing so I focussed more and more on my shortcomings and I forgot about my assets, my skills, my interests, my capacities, my character and personality. To make things worse, I started to see these  as a burden. After all they kept me from becoming a good journalist, they kept me from becoming a great copywriter, and so on. They kept me from being me.

If these labels made me so unhappy, why did I cling to them anyway?

Because I kept believing that once I would find the right label, I would have found who I was, have a purpose in life. Things would become clear and everything would fall into place. Life would be a piece of cake (and I’d live happily ever after).

That was a huge mistake.

It wasn’t until I decided to lose the labels that I realized this and it was only then that things started to fall into place.

This really set me free.

And to be honest, that also scares me. Because I now realize that I will truly have to go where no one has gone before. That is I have to lead my life my way.

I also know it won’t be easy to convince people that who I am is more important than what I am. Who I am defines what I do, how I do it and why I do things that way (and vice versa). These are things a label doesn’t tell you. The label might give you an indication, but it’s far from complete.

No label can value all the skills, the interests, the character and the personality traits that make up “me”. The only things that come close are my name, my story and my actions.

But what makes me really hopeful, what really gives me strength is that wherever I look, I see people I love and like who also lead their life in their own way. I see people trying to make their way, hear them expressing their doubts, their sorrows and their joys.

I see them being who they are and I love them for it.

Why? Because they have understood what I failed to see before:

That life isn’t about being superman. It’s about being superbly human.

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3 thoughts on “Is your name your most important label?

  1. Really enjoyed reading this, Hannes. Thanks so much for drawing my attention to your writing and this blog. Warmest Wishes, Mary Louise Penaz

  2. doriennmien says:

    Beautiful! By the way: labeling what you do is not labeling who you are. Maybe for a part, and probably for even a very tiny part. But that’s it.

  3. Right on. Perhaps the ideal label would be a dictionary, or an inverted dictionary, a book of sentiments, as these tend to change the meaning of words anyhow. Perhaps the problems with a label are not the words themselves, but the sentiments that are hiding underneath, like monsters from the id.

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