Masked in the crowded school hallways, every student in this place has a face, a name, an identity to show. Your high school could be the typical ‘popular girls’, ‘jock guys’, ‘nerds’, ‘rebels’ type; some schools could be less complicated or more in-depth in their social systems. However, with my hectic past experiences of jumping from one group to another, this chaotic mess called school is by far the most complex social jungle I’ve ever come across.

What you see isn’t always what you get. In a way, teenagers these days, including me, are sneakily brutal. The judgement placed upon a person can affect your reputation for a short time, perhaps a few months or, if you’re unlucky, the rest of your high school life.

The smallest mistake or the biggest achievement tags your face like a Tinder description plastered on your forehead.

“Oh that girl did this…” “This guy did that…” “I heard … did this” – more and more whispers build up to the point that it’s not whispering anymore, instead it will become a voice inside you telling you what it is loud and clear. It’s like an infectious disease without a stop, a virus that runs through social connection and it’s never-ending. Everyone seems to have an instant stamp with them and even without understanding another perspective, they can easily label you as something.

It’s easy to say ‘don’t judge’; it’s also easy to say ‘stop caring’, but each self-care activity you do could just be mindless words piling onto one another. Words the best weapons anyone has access to.

I have seen this process many times myself: a clean slate in these crowded halls, words taken in very slowly and this clean slate has morphed into its own identity; however, more words have been taken in and they’ve transformed themselves to someone different once more. It’s like a name tag that you stick onto your shirt and as time goes by it’s just a big pile of names that soon aren’t even yours. So ask yourself: ARE YOU REALLY YOUR LABEL?

Honestly, it’s hard to say that you don’t mind what you are to other people. We naturally latch on to the things that made us ‘us’ – this includes labels. But how about we just rip off all those tags and keep us clean? Why do we need them anyway? For identification? You shouldn’t just be the person that people expect you to be.

Moreover, why look when you can understand? Why talk when you can listen? Why judge when you can keep the peace and shut up? Everyone could have their own opinions; I’m not telling you not to speak your mind, but before you do speak, think about this: do you really know this person? Or do you only know their label?

Khris is in Year 11 and lives in Invercargill. She likes dancing, music, writing, trying new things and exploring the fun in everything.

Want to write for JET too? Please email jamie.carpenter@nzme.co.nz for more details.

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