What Do People Call You? 5 Labels to Reconsider and 5 to Rock Like a Boss

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.

I have these feisty Bitches Get Stuff Done socks, too.

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.

Your 20s and 30s are filled with Giving A F*ck (GAF) about everything everybody thinks about you. By your 60s you are on the way to total Not Giving A F*ck (NGAF) as a worthy goal, though in real life there still may be a few f*cks given out of necessity.

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.

Traveling solo and retiring solo can be intimidating and tricky if things don’t go as planned. But the sense of accomplishment when you make it happen on your own is empowering.

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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42 comments

  1. I love this. I too understand that introvert does not mean shy, and I claim all of your labels as authentic. 😀

    Bitchy is sometimes a state of mind… 😉

    I totally agree that Solo suits you. Oh, and the infographic? Spot on.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love today’s blog. I’ve been on the receiving end of the “bitch” label many times. And when called that, i remind them “that’s Chief Bitch to you buddy”; i have earned my rank. I will share something an HR professional said to me once. She told me because I was now the boss of men, “the guys won’t respect you if you raise your voice to them.” She said when men raise their voice, they’re considered authoritative. When women raise their voice, they’re considered shrill. At the time she said it, 30 years ago, I considered it offensive. The fact that it still appears to be true just makes me consider it both sad and offensive.
    Keep the great posts coming!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Of course you are an Aquarius! My bestie is one and some of my most favorite people have always been A’s 🌝 I also LOVE that you set your alarm to go look at the sky! I used to do that too for years! When’s the next meteor shower? I’m gonna do it! Hmm labels. I’d say I’m sensitive to being called selfish since I’ve been labeled that since I was a kid. But I always felt I was more self-protective and/or a self-advocate. In my life now, I’d love to adopt a label something along the lines of goddess ha! I strive for that everyday and am nowhere near that. But I have my moments 💖 Great article! xo

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, I actually thinking of posting this week about some of the nicknames or “labels” I’ve aquired over the years. One happens to be Big Sexxy, which I’ve always been ok with, not realizing it would stick & follow me from state to state. The main reason it stuck according to the majority is because of how I carry myself, character and things you mentioned. ( I added the extra x because I’m plus size, lol. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Love this post. I’ve been given so many labels I can’t call it but what I am most intrigued and interested in is Self-aware. There’s really not greater measuring stick of growth. I try to teach my daughters the importance of this one all the time because when you understand who you are and what you’re about, you’ll begin to walk in that confidence and you’ll begin to see how the world views you. You don’t need to adjust to that all the time but you certainly need to know.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well said, Ann! You put it better than I did: “…when you understand who you are and what you’re about, you’ll begin to walk in that confidence…” Your daughters have a wise mother! ❤

      Like

  6. You certainly are authentic Natalie. I enjoy and admire how you embrace yourself and these fun, feisty traits. Labels can limit and separate us, but you’ve managed to make them cool, fun, and empowering. You’re definitely a fun, feisty, sexy woman. Kudos and cheers. 🎉

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I would like to reclaim the wore, “crone.” From cronecounsel.org: “ Crone, hag, and witch once were positive words for old women. Crone comes from crown, indicating wisdom emanating from the head; hag comes from hagio meaning holy; and witch comes from wit meaning wise. Crones, hags, and witches frequently were leaders, midwives and healers in their communities.”

    I hope I have a little wisdom to share.

    Wonderful wisdom from you today. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. A lovely post, dear Natalie. I love the concept and practice of reimagining labels. Language is so powerful, and how we think about and talk about ourselves directly affects, well, everything. Empowering to practice what you are writing about. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you for clarifying introvert. I get that reaction quite a bit. And then I give them that definition. And then it makes sense to everyone. But to me you are a “Self-aware, authentic, funny, brainy, bad-ass bitch” 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Natalie, such a thought-provoking blog. I don’t like labels either, but I’ll proudly embrace sexy, brainy, and feisty at this age. You always make me re-think things and I end up feeling so much stronger. Thank you. XO

    Liked by 2 people

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