All my life I’ve been labeled.
After those, well, you know the rest.
Or maybe Einstein put it best when he said that “common sense is [simply] the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.”
Listening to that, I am taken to the moment where truth contradicts itself and leaves me abandoned in limbo; where everything I think I know is suddenly useless as I’ve been reminded once again that I am still ignorant, and where in turn, at the end of the day in essence I am still nothing.
Nothing; like so much of the rest of this mess.
Or what I call ideas whose application I had no say in — attempts at categorization that, even when meant well, are still trying to frame me, trying to simplify me.
But I’ll pass on simplicity and instead I’ll tell a story, an untitled one.
I don’t identify as a Democrat, a Republican, a Marxist, or anything. I’ve heard and learned interesting things from all of them, but that’s it. The same goes for Atheists, Christians, the Queer alliance, the Chicana/o Studies department and everything in between and beyond.
I’m not a part of any of it, but I try my best to listen and if that’s done for me, I’ll do my best to explain.
I often marvel at the fact that I am living in the most globalized time civilization has ever known, in an age where the word can travel the world in a matter of seconds and where uprising in Cairo means ‘’occupation’’ in L.A. Where language has never been more boundless, nor convention challenged, and where as one of the first new citizens of this new century considerate of these things, I might even be in a chapter of revolution.
When I think about that, I am humbled by the day and I do not want to be labeled along with it. I do not want to be placed in what is inevitably a time of displacement, because the world is moving forward, I believe, but it cannot be led by the terminology of yesterday.
As I enter adulthood, however, much like the onslaught of ads and coupons that are piling up on my table no matter how hard I thrust them into the trash, the labels and people who want to label me don’t go away, but only grow in numbers.
This is understandable, as labels help toward definition, but I decline for the most part, even with the comprehension that in acceptance of some of these labels at times there lie scholarships, a friend or two and maybe even an understanding. Correspondingly, sometimes I identify with some of the names people want to give me precisely for these things. It’s a compromise unrestrained by absolution.
Or, as I like to say, it’s a kaleidoscope.
I am a kaleidoscope.
And I think you’re one too.
We are at a point in our lives that is absolutely gifted with a galaxy of thought, where knowledge is showered upon us like a mighty waterfall, every last drop making our minds into more every day.
I say this should challenge identity.
I say let it be complex and let yourself take time in figuring out how it’s meant to be termed, or, if you’re more certain about who you are than that, then at least just listen to those who aren’t.
But if you’re lost like I am and if you’ll pass on being labeled, let yourself be free to choose whichever ones you want whenever you want for whatever reason you find them helpful.
Be untitled and enjoy it.
Name yourself when you feel it.
While it might be true that we can’t escape labels, I think we definitely have a choice over what they don’t say about us; I believe that if we can tell our stories and listen to them as the young people of today and the leaders of tomorrow, we might not just learn something, but we might create even more — a world of new names, written by its new citizens, in the new day, the untitled one.
The choice is yours.
JIMMY RECINOS is considering a name-change; you can send him suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.