September, 15 2016
Why Does Label Matter?

Are you one of those people who struggle to place to identify themselves according to the existing labels? You're not alone.

by Anggi Pangastuti
Issues
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How hard is it for you to answer simple questions like: What is your religion? Are you a feminist? Are you a capitalist? What is your political view?
 
Some will answer those questions in a blink. Me, not so much. It will take me a few minutes to answer just one question. Not because I don’t know what I believe in, but mostly because I don’t know whether what I believe in can fit into any of the term’s definition.
 
I first encountered this labelling confusion when I was in my teenage years. I was asked about the definition of God in Islam. I answered that I believed in God as the creator and basic ruler. I didn’t, however, believe that God manages every little details of human’s life, such as, whether you’ll past your test next month. And I admitted that I had mixed feelings about God being the judge of our actions in the world. This answer, eventually, led the person to deem me as not believing in an Islamic God.
 
Well, the now me would’ve shrugged the person off. My young self wasn’t so sure. I was religious. To have my faith questioned by others was hard. It eventually led me to question myself if my version of Islam is really Islamic teachings.
 
And just like many people who question their beliefs, I became confused and upset. I felt as if I was losing of my own identity. I’ve been trying everything to put back the Islam in me, as much as my effort of putting a name to this belief I have. And years after acknowledging I’m no longer a “normal” Muslim, I still don’t know what to label myself. I’ve asked some people who are closed to me and have been through the same journey. Some tell me I’m an atheist. Some tell me I’m an agnostic. Some tell me I’m still a Muslim.
I still don’t know what to call myself. I do believe in God. A creator of the universe, though not a ruler. By this belief, God for me can be anything, from a real entity to a matter or process. If the Big Bang is really how the universe was created, then I guess the Big Bang is THE GOD for me. I also believe in several teaching of Islam, such as charity, fasting, being nice to each other. Does that make me a Muslim? Maybe. Maybe I’m also an agnostic. Who knows. And the truth is I don’t care.


 
The same goes to my label as a political person. By political person, I mean the principal view of my social and political life. When I was in college, I tried pretty hard to convince myself and several people that I’m a liberal-leftist. I believed in equal rights for every gender, race, sexual orientation, and religion. I also believed that capitalism is the worst thing that has ever happened to  mankind. The reality, well, I believe in equal rights. But I am less certain when it comes to the “leftist” theories.
 
I’ve never been involved in any leftist activism, I still love to hang out at expensive cafes, to spend my money on clothes made in “child-labor” factories, basically those metropolitan activities. I hated being called pop, but I did all those pop activities. Guess what, after college, I even took a job at a manufacturing company. There goes my leftist ideology :D (I did leave the company though).
 
I was trying hard to be cool, to fit in with a certain group. I forgot the most important gift in my life: being myself.
 
Now, I don’t care if people laugh because I don’t know any quotes from Karl Marx or Adam Smith (or those geniuses you’re supposed to know if you are smart at all). I don’t care if I’m called a capitalist bitch because I love to shop at shopping malls and have coffee at “fancy” coffee shop.
 
Oh, by the way, sometimes I make jokes about gay people, religions, and, yes, women as well. I don’t care about being called those because I know I have a set of morals which I hold strongly in my life. I can differentiate right from wrong. I know when it’s okay to make sexist, sexual joke about women, and when it’s not appropriate to even think of them (hint: rape and sexual assault). Just because I don’t know  Marx’s exact words doesn’t make me heartless and enslave people for the sake of profits.
 
It intrigued me how much people are worked out over their label. I’m glad you know what to call your belief or yourself. That makes it easier for people to define you, of course. But, for those who are still like me, don’t feel like you belong in any group, or simply don’t know what group you belong to. I’ll tell you this: It’s okay. Our life is not a novel in which everything has to be precise, in which everyone has to have a clear character lest you  ruin the plot and make the novel shitty.
 
A very important person to me once told me, “People want labels so they don’t have to think. You have a lifetime to find your label.” So, I guess I’ll be a lifetime thinker.
 
Anggi Pangastuti is a 26-year-old girl who is passionate about politics and education. She hates any economics talk and is still searching for her dream job. Being jobless gives her a lot of time to doubt herself even more than ever. She writes to channel these dark thoughts