[Meet Margaret, a freshman at Yale. We’ve been checking in with her every week to see what she’s doing, who she’s meeting, and what new college surprises she’s tackling (or freaking out about) as she embarks on the journey we call college. Or as I like to call it, the best thing since Trader Joe’s Honey Greek Yogurt.]
In high school, I had a clear label. I was Ms. Student Government, Ms. Good Grades, Ms. Overachiever. And even though all of our years of primary schooling have told us that labels are totally, totally terrible and that we should define people by their true selves and inner lights, etcetera, Oprah wisdom, etcetera, Oprah wisdom, I’m just going to say this: I heart labels.
Because for some reason, rather than being stifled and held down by my defined structural cocoon of a label, I ultimately felt freer to be anyone I wanted to be. Completely ridiculous, right? Yeah.
By being known as the Smart Girl, I no longer had to prove that part of myself. It was like, I could be flexible. I could get a B on a paper, I could forget to do my homework, I could bomb an English test, but I would still be known as the Smart Girl. I mean, I guess it’s kinda like how Paris Hilton could potentially save puppies and ace an LSAT, but she always has that Party Girl image. Except, the opposite, you know?
It’s like, when you have a defined label, all you need to do is be like, “But wait, that label is not all that defines me.” And wham, you can do whatever you want and you surprise people because obviously Real You is so much more interesting than Labeled You.
So now, I’m in this totally awkward phase of being label-less. Now, according to Tyra and self-help books everywhere, I should be in a state of bliss. I mean, no one is judging me based on…anything, right? I should feel free to do whatever I want.
But I feel so trapped, you guys! Because now whatever step I take defines me—it’s like, I don’t have that fallback of Smart Girl anymore, because a) everyone here is smart, and b) I totally still have left over Senioritis from last year, and, let’s face it, I definitely got a C on my first Spanish assignment. So now I’m just like everyone else… or worse, Bad Spanish Girl. And that just doesn’t sit well with me.
I think I’ll eventually figure things out and get comfortable with being whoever I am; for now though, I’m recognizing how much I depended on labels throughout my formative years.
Goodbye Smart Girl, hello _______?
[Follow Margaret’s freshman adventures right here.]