Not any Ordinary Label

Original article was published by Pranay Palvadi on Deep Learning on Medium

Not any Ordinary Label

You’ll never be the same.

By Pranay Palvadi

It’s funny because every day we go outside and live our lives with the goal of being good people because that is what we are told to do. We are told, “Go be a good person and you’ll have a good life”, but that isn’t always the case. There is one thing that can tarnish even the most fruitful of lives. All it takes is one person to betray your trust and assign you a label. And I’m not talking about any ordinary label with a name on the front and adhesive on the back, this label is different. This label is branded onto your forehead while the world watches. And as you feel the label searing onto your skin, you lose more and more of yourself. You are completely conscious yet helpless as the label slowly fuses with every fiber of your being and you are forced to watch as your world gradually loses its color. Once the label becomes part of you it alters your vision and twists your thoughts, leaving you to stare at their mangled remains. No one will ever see you the same, and even if they can’t see your label, it has already been imprinted in your mind and has distorted everything you thought you knew about yourself. You begin to lose yourself in -not just the label- but all the baggage that is brought along with it. Every experience, newspaper article, Instagram post, and piece of knowledge riddled with inaccuracies is placed directly on you. So, while you attempt to navigate through your own life, you are also tasked with carrying that excess weight while dodging every underhanded comment or dig that seeks to further cripple your already waning strength. Each shallow conversation where people seem to be dancing on egg-shells, each pair of eyes filled with pity, and each misguided attempt to provide “support” or “help”, serves as yet another reminder that yes, you are different and that no people will never look at you the same.

It baffles me that everyone wonders why people tend to keep to themselves about things of this nature. You are constantly bombarded by questions like, “Why didn’t you tell anyone?”, or “You should’ve told me that you felt that way”, or “I could’ve helped you”. Well, I guess I just didn’t want my entire life to come crashing down, and the only way to, maybe and just maybe, regain any sense of normalcy would be to reframe my experience as a “survivor” and serve as an example of a success story. But what if I don’t want to manipulate my image that way. I shouldn’t have to change the way I live my life, just to have a chance at a better perception of myself. In addition to changing your way of life, you also have to face this “bad or undesirable” facet of yourself day after day, all the while, having people poke and prod at your thoughts hoping to better understand you like you’re some sort of lab rat. And if you do decide to become a spokesperson, you are essentially forcing yourself to confront your label day after day, which might be better than the default option which is waiting and watching as you travel inch by agonizing inch toward the broken pile. And the funny thing is, no matter what you do after you’ve been placed in the broken pile, nothing will ever remove the permanent marks that have imprinted themselves on every centimeter of your body. And it is as if those blemishes contain venom that seeps into your skin and infiltrates your bloodstream. Then this deadly substance courses through your veins, affecting any and everything in its path, resulting in a lethal cocktail that causes lasting damage to your consciousness. You begin to believe all the things that people say about you. You begin to believe all the things that the internet says you and those like you. And I believe that this culminates in one of the most devastating transformations that can take place because of its invisibility. You will never truly feel normal again, when you look in there mirror, everything is the same but also nothing is the same. This transformation has reconstructed your identity in such subtle by impactful ways, you are left racking your brain for every single possible thing that could’ve changed, but you won’t be able to identify them, which is a deception that will continue to haunt you for the rest of your days.