Tearing off labels: a vital part of the teenage experience

Logan Allan, Online Editor

The teenage years are mostly spent with mountains of homework, a plethora of hobbies, and a fair amount of socializing. Maybe for a few, their social time is cut because they have other interests, or a job to hold.
And on top of everything else that we have one our plate, we’re finding who we want to become.
One of the most important parts of being a teenager is soul-searching for who you really are, experimenting with what values are truly your own and accepting the fair share of existentialism every now and then.
In our search for what it means to be yourself and a human being on this earth, I feel like a lot of us get caught up in the ways that other people describe us. Pretty, geeky, athletic, intelligent, kind, artsy—these are all examples of some fairly basic words that we hear our peers describe us as.
And sometimes, in our desperate search for our identities, we adopt one of these adjectives and make it our label so that we may feel included, or so that we feel safe in who we are.
At Newcastle Elementary and Maywood Middle School, I was known as the horse girl in my grade. I talked about horses basically whenever the chance came up. And as I became the “horse girl” in my grade, I felt like I had to dress and act the part too.
Sure, I was into things like reading and Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, but what did that matter when I felt like the only thing I was known as was the horse girl?
I would wear my flannel showing shirts to school, tug on my cleaner set of barn boots (because I was heading down to the barn right after school), and bring books to class about horses and read about them whenever I got the chance.
What I wish I had realized at Maywood is that being one of the girls who loves horses in my grade is only one part of me. I was more than my great love for horses. Yes, it is an important part of me, but it isn’t the only thing that makes me who I am.
Just because there is a dominant characteristic that everyone recognizes does not mean that that is the sum of who you are and who you can become.
Humans are so much more than one tiny adjective, so much more than one label slapped onto them. I think part of being a teenager is discovering that we have the power to rip that label off, let our personality explode across our lives, let our aspirations waver and change, and let ourselves blossom into who we want to be—without the restriction of labels.