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The sun lazily crawled across the sky, seeking its place of rest. Its fading light cast a seductive glow across the horizon. Swirls of mango and passion fruit fragrance drifted lazily upwards on the steam of the soothing liquid in my cup. There is nothing like a good cup of tea at the end of the day, or any hour of the day as a matter of fact. The delighted giggles of the neighbour’s children bounced off the rays of the weary sun, drawing me from my reflections. Peering through the banister I glimpsed them playing a game of catch. Then came their mother’s voice beckoning them inside. At the sound of their names their heads snapped up and little feet hurried in the direction of the summoning sounds.

Taking a sip of the steamy refreshment, thoughts of names drifted serenely through my thoughts. We are all called something and in some cases many things. I have been called so many things at various times, I jokingly tell my friends, I only want to be called by my first name. My name has gone from my mother’s maiden name, to my stepfather’s last name, added my ex’s last name, then back to my step father’s name, then back to my mother’s maiden (I never connected with my step father’s name), and now I have attached the name of my husband (done with absolute pleasure). Are you still with me? Good! But I have been also called a lot of other things as well. “Stupid, dumb, bitch, cold, stuck up, looser, whore, fool, donkey, brilliant, sensational, weird, different” and the list goes on. I have been called so many things and have responded to each in one form or another. Whether it be through withdrawal, silence, tears, rude comments muttered under my breath, smiles, or the common response “yes”, in part I owned them all, but they weren’t all mine. I watched as the labels given to me buried my individuality. I thought if others saw it, it had to be true. As a result, I spent too many years working to erase the negative labels that others attached to me, waiting for them to pronounce more favourable labels. But I have learned over the years the impossibility of pleasing everyone. Today, I answer to very few names and I determine the labels I accept.

It has been an arduous journey along the path of identity and a gruelling battle shedding the labels that has been attached to me over the years. With every label we accept, the weight of its meaning blankets, interconnects or boosts who we are. Someone else’s idea of you becomes your reality and the unique light of who you are dims and in too many cases die. A space that the authentic you should have filled remains a void in the universe. Someone else would have lived two lives. They lived theirs and you also lived theirs. So who will live your life, be the light you ought to have been, create the impact you should have created, be the ripples across humanity that you should have been? Who will be you, when you have been someone else or everyone else?

People may call you a multitude of things, they may label and name you a million more things. But it is never so much about what you are called. It is more about what you will answer to. In your name is the essence of who you are, a reflection of your character, a glimmer of your potential, the message of your life, a unique hope and love that only you can bring, a touch that only you can offer, laughter that only you can generate and a life that ripples across humanity causing significant disturbances that only you can produce.

So gently roll those shoulders back and let cloak of labels fall one by one, both the good and the bad. Let them gather at your feet. And in the nakedness of who you are, step forward and embrace the you that you have yet to know. Reconnect to the idea of you, unfold the dynamics of your essence, and embrace you. Then you decide the labels that support, reflect and promote the best of who you are. Know by what you wish to be called, then wear it boldly, bravely and with no excuses or apologies. State and answer only to the names that reflect the authentic you!

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