Read my lips, I do not need your labels.

I saw the picture above on a friend’s Facebook page and it depicts me accurately. I love my own company to a fault. Leave me in a house with music, books, a laptop and a TV and I can stay there for weeks. There has to be food of course! Over the years, I’ve learnt to enjoy being by myself. Well, I can’t say I learnt it; it’s innate. I’m an introvert. Many people don’t know this about me because I can be outspoken and outgoing when I want to. However, give me the option of staying by myself and hanging in the midst of people, I will gladly choose the option of staying by myself.

People have called me weird because I enjoy being alone. I’m not a sadist or anything. I can be social when I need to be but that doesn’t happen every time for me. My behaviour has earned me a lot of titles from weird to anti-social and it got me thinking about the topic of labels and the psychology of labelling. Why do we use labels and are they really necessary?

One thing I have discovered is that people tend to use labels when things, or should I say people, do not measure up to their expectations. When you are amongst a group of people and you spot a lady sitting by herself or she’s just being quiet, you suddenly come to the conclusion that she is either a snob or a loner. Why? Could it be possible that this lady just wants to be on her own or she is just not in a chatty mood? No? I have those moments when I don’t just want to talk to anybody. Unfortunately sometimes, on such days I cannot lock myself in my room. I have to go out. If you say hello to me on such days I will respond but I will not indulge in any unnecessary conversation. So you can imagine how many times I have been called a snob.

How about when you are in a bus and the person sitting next to you wants to strike a conversation and you simply don’t care. Maybe you’re probably thinking of some problem that you are dealing with back at home. Or you are walking on the street and someone wants to come and talk to you but after such a long day at work, all you really want to do is to go home and sleep. When you don’t indulge such a person you risk being hit with the label of being cold or rude.

Then there are those women who are working very hard to provide for themselves and they end up being labelled as feminists or as being high maintenance. Why? It’s simply because they have chosen not wait around for a man to do things for them. What about those women that have great academic and career aspirations? Suddenly they are too ambitious. I wrote about this on my column on Y! Africa. If a lady loves to look good she is vain but if she doesn’t, she is nonchalant. It’s impossible to keep up with these labels.

Don’t get me started on the labels that come automatically because you come from a particular tribe or country. You are a Nigerian therefore you are a fraudster or because you are an Ijebu girl then you must be stingy. I can’t even deal. Why don’t you get to know me first before giving me labels that I didn’t ask for? Why can’t we even let people be and accept them for who they are? If you are an extrovert, not everyone in your sphere of influence will be an extrovert and the fact that they are introverts doesn’t make them weird.

Let’s do away with labels. I’m sure the world will be a much saner and safer place if we do.

*NB: You can follow me on Twitter @msdoyeen

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