I was listening to a friend’s podcast. It got me thinking about identity and what a hot button topic it has been. As I have been exploring and designing communication workshops this year, it is top of mind for me. The ways we prefer to identify ourselves OR how we are not willing to be identified can create connection, belonging, and ease. But in certain situations (particular theological contexts), the conversation of identity seems confusing or fear inducing. If you are often wondering how to create a deeper connection with other humans but sometimes find it complex, this inquiry might be of interest to you. 


At the end of this email is the link to the podcast episode by my friend M Shannon Hernandez and their spouse, Maria. In the episode, Maria and Shannon are discussing labels and identity. Shannon can’t stand them. Maria feels that using them is important for belonging and identity. After listening to the episode, I can say I have felt similarly to them both. I have both loved the simplicity that labels can create for immediate belonging and have also hated the simplicity of labels because they can make people feel ‘othered’. 

What are your thoughts about labels and identity?


Have labels been helpful to clarify who you are and where you fit?


Within the groups and organizations you participate in has establishing identity using labels caused division or has it created safe space?


Noting and organizing differences and similarity seems like a pretty normal part of life. There are whole systems in science to determine how living things are related or how they are different. Marie Kondo-ing my closet had me identify what sparked joy and what didn’t. It was a helpful process. When I was learning about foraging herbs, knowing poisonous from safe was super helpful differentiation. However, humans with other humans have a historically value driven based relationship to difference. It can create division, isolation, and even perpetuation of unjust treatment.


Is it the perceived or agreed upon value of certain labels or identity as less desirable that creates the division we see or feel?


In my inquiry, I really think so. 


So I pose these final questions to you:


Where have labels that you have given yourself or been given that limit your ability to be you? 

What identity are you desiring to be known as now?

Where have you given labels to others that limit their freedom to be fully themselves?  

How could engaging in a dialogue about identity create connection, collaboration, and authentic communication with people you love or within organizations that matter to you? 


May your inquiry create more love and connection where it matters most to you.


PS: I invite you to listen to my friend’s podcast, The Trans Literation Podcast, as each episode is thought provoking. Plus it might just give you deeper insight into how similar and different each of us are. Listen on Apple Podcasts or on iHeart Podcast