I never liked labels. Early on, our mother taught us to call people by their names, a principle she learned through her personal experience with teasing and through someone she loved.
During her childhood, people teased her about her “skinny legs.” After sharing her experience with her father, he shared his story of being teased about the size of his head. She never forgot what it felt like to be teased or her father's lingering pain from childhood; therefore, she was passionate about reinforcing her principle to call people by their name.
When some family members described an out-of-town family member, they described her by saying she was “crazy.” When I met the family member, I realized that she was not crazy; she was misunderstood. But, I saw the impact of other’s opinions on her identity. I saw the pain in her eyes; there was more to the wounds she had.
When I graduated from nursing school, some people referred to me as a “nurse.” I was not too fond of that label either. I just wanted to be Timika, a person that is more than her experience. Part of what helped me to move forward from childhood sexual abuse was avoiding labels based on fear.
For the first time, I watched approximately 40 minutes of Oprah’s new show, The Me You Can’t See, last night. Unfortunately, we live in a world in which people project their fears and insecurities on others. I believe many of our adulthood issues stem from our childhood wounds often projected by others. At some point, we believe that others’ opinions mean more than what we think of ourselves. Fortunately, illusions do not stand up to the Truth. The Truth is in us and waiting for us to recognize that we are not what others think of us.
Our parents had reasons for choosing our names, including in memory of a loved one, someone they admired, or the love of a particular name). Who am I to trash over that name? Now, I admit that I am not an expert at remembering names, but I do try. I go further in seeing beyond a person’s name. I see a person who matters and is here for a divine reason.
Especially in childhood, we need time to figure ourselves out without the opposition of others. In the same breath, we must know we can’t stop others from talking. As my mother told us, “as long as people have a tongue, they will talk.”