Coming up with a label is an important step in your personal self-discovery.
Throughout my young life, I have struggled with personal labels. In high school I was smart and I played the flute in band. People liked the labels “nerd” or “geek”, I liked the label “gifted”. In my university years, family members and government organizations used the “student” label a lot. And I liked that since I got free money, medical coverage, and loving support. The “student” label did all the things a good label should do. It was very general and made people think that I was doing something meaningful with my life. And what is more meaningful than Russian cinema? Absolutely nothing.
The downside to the “student” label is that it has an approximate shelf-life of about 4 years or about $20,000. After that, no one will be impressed with that label. At this point, you may want to slap on another descriptor label like “grad” to your “student” label. “Grad student”. Has a nice ring to it doesn’t it? It certainly does. “Grad student” will extend your “student” shelf-life another two years, but be careful where you use it. In the company of grown-up working folks with “real” jobs, “real world” experience, and “real” problems, the “grad student” label may incur a whole lot of nasty questions. If you’re like me, you probably want to avoid those zingers. Ouch. The best way to deal with the working proletariat is to put them in their place. Try the superior labels such as, “scholar” or “academic” in the same sentence as “saving the world” or “bettering our society” and watch the zing deflect. How do like that? That’s what I thought.
After you are finished “saving the world” for a few more years you may feel a great loss as you say good-bye to the “student” label. If you are like me, you may have totally burnt out from writing your thesis in a month and come to the painful realization that your contribution in the betterment of the world will probably end up in the recycling bin (which is better than the garbage because at least you are saving trees and trees help us breathe = saving the world. So it all works out. Right?)
Concluding thoughts: Before you embark on a new chapter in your life it is important to redefine yourself.
You are your label and when you lose your label you are nothing but an individual. And that idea sickens me.
Coming soon: 5 easy steps to make your own label.