As a whiskey distillery intern I’ve been learning and blogging about making bourbon, tasting/sniffing/evaluating bourbon, and the rules for labeling a whiskey as “bourbon.” In my posts, I write about how this bourbon whiskey stuff can be applied to real life and relationships with people.
Last week I wrote about applying the concept of bourbon rules to the labeling and timing of dating relationships. This week I want to take the whole idea of labels and apply it to ourselves. What labels do you want people attaching to you? Are there some you definitely don’t want associated with who you are? I think there are some labels that are misunderstood and need to be reconsidered, and others I think we can rock like a boss.
Labels to Reconsider
Let’s take another look at these labels:
1. Introvert. I wrote here about being an introvert, and how many people misunderstand this label. I never understood why my personality tests always identified me as an introvert when I am not at all shy. I was a VP and manager of media training, who taught people how to give presentations and speak to reporters during a crisis. I’m comfortable speaking to very large groups, such as this crowd of 11,000 people at a statehouse rally when I was a teacher. It turns out being introverted has nothing to do with being shy and everything to do with where you get your energy. If you find crowds drain your energy and you need some quiet solitude to then recharge that energy, you are an introvert. To my surprise, synonyms for introvert can include brooder, loner, and self-observer…as well as egotist and narcissist??? Uh-oh.
2. Sexy. We need to stop thinking of sexy as T&A and lingerie. It’s not about physical appearance. It’s about state of mind. Sexy is mature, inviting, provocative, and stimulating. Sexy is curious and smart and confident. Imagination, creativity, and vision are sexy. Courage is sexy. The unexpected is sexy.
3. Feisty. This label, which I don’t think I’ve ever heard used to describe a man, can mean someone is quarrelsome, touchy, ornery, or high-strung. It can also apply to a person who is courageous, determined, gutsy, and lively. Folks may label women who speak their minds as feisty. I’ll take that.
4. Bitch. A bitch is a female canine. In slang, of course, we all know bitch is used — often by abusive men — to describe a woman thought to be disagreeable and overbearing. When a man possesses “bitch” traits, however, he is a strong leader. If a bitch is a strong woman who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to go after it, then please, sign me up for Bitch Camp.
5. Geek. A geek is a person who is obsessed with a specialized subject or activity, and constantly talks about it with over-the-top enthusiasm. When I was younger I thought this was a bad thing. But now, I love getting my geek on. A geek has passion and purpose. I am a meteor shower geek, who heads to the Lake Erie islands or a dark-sky park hours away just to catch a spectacular light show. I’m a night-sky geek who sets my alarm so I can get up at, say, 2:10 AM to go outside and stand in the pitch-dark to look up at the sky and see Venus shining at just the right moment. I have a telescope by the door, ready to go. And you all know by now that I’m a whiskey geek. Who wouldn’t want to be labeled that?
Labels to Rock
There are some other labels I think we’d all benefit from. Let’s go ahead and rock these:
1. Self-aware. Someone once told me a list of the things they liked about me. They said they liked that I’m “kind, funny, brainy, and self-aware.” Of the labels on this list, I was most pleased by self-aware. If I were still on dating sites, I’d definitely add that to my online profile. Being self-aware means being conscious of your own feelings, and I’ve worked hard at that so it felt good to have someone notice and put it into words. If you don’t know what you’re feeling you can’t give yourself permission to feel something different. Without self-awareness you cannot grow.
2. Brainy. This one is a no-brainer. Of course, everyone wants to be labeled as smart, intelligent, clever. But intelligence doesn’t always manifest itself the same way in everyone. It can look different in each of us. I wrote this post about some of the unexpected signs of intelligence in different people.
3. Funny. Causing laughter is a good thing, especially if you can laugh at yourself. In fact, it turns out being funny is such a key leadership trait they teach a course on humor at Stanford. The Wall Street Journal and Financial Times bestseller Humor, Seriously: Why Humor Is a Secret Weapon in Business and Life, is written by Stanford MBAs Jennifer Aaker and Naomi Bagdonas, who teach the course at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. According to them, “Humor can be one of the most powerful tools we have for accomplishing serious things. Studies show that humor makes us appear more competent and confident, strengthens relationships, unlocks creativity, and boosts our resilience during difficult times.” Humor is a superpower. I’ve noticed some folks like to talk up their sarcastic sense of humor, thinking sarcasm makes them brainy. Sometimes, though, sarcasm can just make you a mean asshole. There’s no power in that.
4. Authentic. This label is what The Hot Goddess is all about. Inspiring midlife women to live an authentic life they love that’s true to who they really are. It’s not easy. Being completely authentic requires you to stop caring what other people think about you. Social media totally screws this up. I wrote here about how caring what other people think of you can decrease with age.
5. Stubborn. Have you ever noticed how when men are stubborn they’re viewed as decisive, confident, strong leaders; when younger women are stubborn they’re considered spirited; but when midlife women are stubborn we’re just cranky, old bitches? As an Aquarian, stubborn is my middle name. I own it. I’m proud of it. Stubborn means you don’t give up. Stubborn is the stuff of badassery. Keep your mind open to new ideas and conflicting opinions — that’s how we learn — but stay stubborn AF in pursuit of the life you want.
Reimagining Your Label
In my reimagined midlife, the label I’m most proud of is Solo. This is a favorite of mine. I am a solo traveler, a solo retiree, and, for many years, was a solo parent and solo business owner. I accomplished these things by myself. I happen to be single, but you don’t have to be single to do something solo — to accomplish something on your own.
In your midlife, what labels would you like to reimagine for yourself?
Thank you for reading. May your Friday be labeled happy and fun.
All images from thehotgoddess.com retired_rewired_inspired.
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