August 3, 2017


"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."
-Romeo & Juliet

Several years ago, I was experimenting with a new medication for my epilepsy.  Dustin and I had decided we wanted to have a child, and my current medication was not recommended for women who were pregnant or trying to get pregnant.

After a lot of trial and error, I began taking a new medication that not only controlled my seizures but also had the least serious side effects while taken while pregnant.  And, it wasn't long after that, that I found out I was pregnant.

Not long into my pregnancy, I went to the pharmacy to pick up a refill.  I noticed that the price of my prescription was significantly less than it had been before.  When I asked the pharmacist about the price difference, he said it was because I was given the generic, not name-brand, medicine.

I was confused and concerned about any changes being made while I was still pregnant, and promptly called my doctor.  I was told that the generic medicine had the same ingredients as the name-brand and was safe for me to consume.

I've been thinking about that experience a lot lately and how it relates to labels.

Everything in our life has a label.

Products are labeled.  People are labeled.  Places are labeled.

And we put a lot of stock into these labels.

Sometimes a label really does make a difference.  For example, spending $$$ on a table from West Elm will more than likely lead to owning a higher quality product as compared to a table you would buy from Target.

There is nothing wrong with wanting products from high quality companies, especially if your budget allows for it.

The problem with labels come when we use them to elevate our own status or worth.  Am I a better person because I own a table from West Elm as compared to the person that owns a table from Target.  The answer is, obviously, no.

I think it's sometimes hard to remember that.

Owning a certain product doesn't mean you're better or worse than somebody else.  It just means you own a certain product.

Product labels are one thing.  But, what about labels we put on ourselves or other people?

For example, politicians.  How likely are you to justify a political leader's behavior so long as they belong to the same political party as you?  From my perspective, we will justify or shrug off or accept or even deny facts so long as the leader is labeled correctly.

The same is true for our family members, friends, celebrities or well-respected community members like doctors. 

I happened upon a conversation on Facebook between a man running for mayor and a voter.  The man running for office had a lot of great things to say.  He had good ideas.  He was well-written and appeared to have a genuine concern for the city.  The voter was only interested in one thing:  what party the candidate belonged to.  It was obvious the voter would only consider this candidate's ideas or concerns legitimate so long as he belonged to the correct party.

The candidate eventually disclosed his political affiliation and the conversation was over.

Keep in mind, his ideas for the city had not changed.  He still meant what he said.  But, because he now had a labeled attached to him, he was either liked or disliked regardless of the details.

I don't think there's really any way around labels in general.  Certainly, not when it comes to products.  But, it would be nice to see some changes with labels when it comes to people.

Some people with all the right labels aren't necessarily good people making good decisions.

And some people with the less-than flattering labels aren't necessarily bad people making bad decisions.

Some labels are inevitable, like our race or ethnicity...unless you're that white woman living in Seattle.

Other labels, like being cool because you shop at Trader Joe's, are meaningless.  A great example of this is when some frozen food line was recalled from Trader Joe's and Walmart stores.  I had a good laugh at that one.

I'm trying really hard to look beyond the labels we give ourselves or other people.  Whether we're rich or poor, male or female, married or single or divorced, we all have value.  We all have strengths that are needed in our society.  And we all have weaknesses that other people can help us with.  We're more similar than we realize.

And, at the end of the day, whether name-brand or generic, I'm not having seizures.  

And that's all that matters to me!

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