The All-Important And: An Introduction
The word AND. We use it so much. Think about it. Think about how many times you use the word AND. And then try to make a paragraph without it. Writing these few sentences without AND is kinda weird now that I'm thinking about it too hard. But more than just joining sentences and ideas together...the word AND I've found to be super important.
The Purpose of Labels
To understand why AND is so important, I'm going to back up a step. Labels. We label people. And that has a really negative connotation, doesn't it? But guess what? Everyone does it? Every time you see someone new what do you do? You describe them in your mind, your brain processes what you're seeing.
Blonde. Brunette. Tall. Short. Smiling. Not smiling. And going deeper, as you get to know someone, you have more to describe them. Mom. Friend. Teacher. Their roles in your life and others'. And more nuanced things like kind or loving or perfectionist.
Labels are the way we understand others and they way we understand and explain ourselves. Makes total sense. And some labels are super important to people. Think of the queer community. Labels, words, are super important. Having the language to understand their experiences is hugely important. (This is not my experience, so I will not speak for the whole LGBTQ+ community - or any because I'm not in that community - but that many stories I've heard, this is a huge thing for people.)
And even personally, there are labels I hold that are super important to me. I'm a wife. I'm a daughter. They are important and a normal thing that people do.
The Detriment of Labels
The problem comes in when...we only see and understand a person through the lens of one label. I am not JUST a wife. I am not JUST a daughter. I am not JUST my relationship to another person. I am a person. I am my own person. And there are layers and layers and layers to me. And those layers are going to continue to form and change. And when someone judges me based on just one label...it's annoying and can be - and has been - very damaging to me as a person. And it can be and has been damaging to other people.
Of course, I'm not talking about when someone makes some small thing not meaning to. There's a difference. And we don't always realize we're doing it. But we do. And when we reduce someone to JUST nice...when they're not nice, we judge them on our own perceptions without seeing the whole picture. Maybe they're not being unkind, they're just being unkind to your standards. Maybe they're having a bad day. Maybe something triggered them. There are so many layers to people.
When we reduce people to a single thing, we will always be disappointed. And we project that disappointment on others. And it impacts them.
Where AND Comes In
This is where AND becomes so important. For a while, I just hated labels in general. And they are definitely portrayed as bad just all around. Don't label people. Don't profile people. Right? And yes. I agree. When it is used to make rash decisions.
But! We have the word AND. This handy little word, just three letters, one syllable. That joins things and makes things that...seem contradictory or that can't be together...together. The ultimate joiner. And it can join labels and ideas and give a fuller picture of someone.
I am a wife AND a daughter AND a friend AND a woman AND a person AND a social media manager AND a believer in God. AND I hoped to be a mother AND I have anxiety AND I am smart AND beautiful AND airheaded AND stubborn AND...AND...AND...
I could go on and on. And I will! I want this to be a sort of series over the next couple of months. My experiences being reduced to one label. How I've confronted that and tried - continue to try - to see the WHOLE person standing in front of me. So there will be more blogs about this.
But this is basis of it. AND is important. Seeing from all sides - or as many sides as possible - is important. Because people are...complicated. And messy. And...people. Just like us.
If you haven't yet, sign up for my newsletter!