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Labels Don't Stick
By Karen Pilarski
I once found a can of food buried in my pantry. It was dusty and expired a year earlier. The label was completely torn off. I had no idea what was in that can of food. My only thought was that it was old and should be discarded. A bout of braveness took over and the can was opened. Needless to say it was a slimy and green version of what I want to say was peaches?
Yes, I’m going to compare people to expired cans of food. People don’t stay the same. The marks of life show in dings and dents, displayed on the surface. I’m not the same person I was years ago. I’d like to hope somewhere in the span of time my personality has evolved into something more positive. It is unfair to stamp someone a certain way because of how they were when growing up. I’m guilty of labeling people I’ve dealt with based on perceptions of the past.
I remember this mean girl from high school choir. I made the mistake of being funny and making a goofy face in a picture. She called me out in front of the class and said I was ugly. I went home in tears. I wrote her off as a cruel bitch. The end of the year before our graduation she came up to me and apologized and said
I wasn’t ugly. I wonder what made her see the error of her way. Maybe the choir teacher put her in her place. Possibly she realized she hurt my feelings? I’m sure she would have been hurt if she heard me say she looked like she hit a few ugly branches on the ugly tree. Fast forward a decade and she is hopefully a responsible member of society. Perhaps she learned that words hurt people. Labels hurt people.
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