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An Evolving Worldview: The Significance of Labels

Hello my name is Sher, and I'm Autistic!

In the intricate fabric of my life's story, there exists a significant thread that symbolizes a profound transformation – a voyage from self-oppression to compassion. This journey traces its origins to the distant past but has recently rekindled through my engagements and dialogues concerning labels, notably within the realm of autism.

One striking moment stands out vividly. A practicing Jungian Psychologist, upon learning about my autism diagnosis, abruptly terminated our conversation, declaring, "I don't do labels, have a nice day." The rejection stung, and I found my voice to advocate for myself. Eventually, the dialogue resumed, and she proudly displayed her "PhD" label, seemingly elevating her social status and diminishing the value of my words. It was an ironic revelation, a declaration of, "I won't accept your label, but I'll readily embrace one if it benefits me."

Conversely, I encountered those who recognized the pitfalls of labels, viewing them as products of the mind that can lead to biases and confinement. One-person shared Plato's analogy, "If you approach a man sitting by a fire in a cave and tap him on the shoulder to show him the way out, he will surely try to kill you." Their interpretation challenged the conventional notion of labels, highlighting the potential for them to become oppressive constructs.

Through these discussions, I underwent a transformation. I no longer see labels solely as products of the mind; instead, I understand their potential to evolve into constructs that shape our worldview. I embraced the fluidity of my own identity, recognizing that I am in a constant state of growth as a human being. While the label of autism carries significance in my life today, I acknowledge that it may lose relevance in the future. Nevertheless, within a society that often emphasizes differences and "otherness," this label has granted me a genuine sense of belonging, a profound connection to our shared humanity.

Fundamentally, I recognized that many individuals resist categorization, urging us to refrain from embracing labels we don't comprehend. However, within the framework of Jungian psychology, I discovered that individuation represents a journey of self-exploration, where labels serve as tools to fathom the facets of our self-awareness. It became evident that labels indeed bear significance, but they can become perilous when wielded as weapons.

As I continued to explore this issue, I realized that ambiguity arises when we possess a partial understanding, and our instinct as humans is to categorize and replace ambiguity with well-defined constructs. Yet, I heed the wisdom of Robert Sapolsky, a biologist at Stanford, who cautions against hasty declarations of norms. This proclivity for categorization, he warned, can oversimplify the richness and complexity of the human experience. Recognizing our inclinations for categorization becomes crucial, both in scientific endeavors and in navigating the judgmental nature of our society.

Autism exists along a spectrum, a label that gains profound significance within this diversity. It doesn't confine but recognizes the intricate nature of human beings. The autism label serves as a reference, acknowledging the uniqueness of each individual's journey within the spectrum.

Embracing this complexity, I have grasped that there's no one-size-fits-all definition of autism. It's a dynamic concept that encompasses a wide array of strengths and challenges. Every person on the spectrum brings their own talents, interests, and perspectives, contributing to the mosaic of human diversity.

For the present, I proudly embrace the label of autism. It serves various purposes in my life, but I do not wield it as a weapon of power or privilege. Instead, it grants me a unique sense of connection to humanity—an innate belonging that I could have never fully understood before. It's a journey that has transformed me, fostering empathy, understanding, and a commitment to inclusivity in a world that is beautifully diverse.

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