When and why, or even who started accepting the labels we seem to put on people?
Did they do it to help themselves understand peoples troubles or just to simplify the overwhelming puzzles of illnesses and health issues we have facing us all these days?
Fletchers', the arrowhead makers, Smiths', the Blacksmiths, Thatchers', the roofers for example.
These were easy as it was exactly what they produced. But we have complicated it even more. If anyone says anything, others are analysing and labelling you before you have even finished. I have gone past the point of trying to explain myself to others, other than to tell it like it is. I am an open and honest person. The officers would ask for an honest opinion and then be upset as it wasn't what they wanted to hear. I won't apologise as when I stand up against stupidity that could potentially kill my crew and the public, oh yeah and me, then I can no longer be silent.
I think I would need another jacket or wider shoulders for all the labels pinned on me, lol.
At some point standing up for what is right is still right.
Wrong is still wrong however you fluff it up and reword it.
Reality is very real and hard-hitting. It doesn't work on statistics and numbers in clean offices whilst pushing a pen and shining the seat with your arse. Just being honest!
So, as a Fireman, I was a symbol to the public as someone who can be depended upon to go above and beyond when needed. Going forward when others are leaving. This is the same for all Emergency workers and the Military. And I hope I haven't failed. I have had a few too many close shaves that could have easily gone another way, but I was fortunate. Lady Luck shone on me.
As a Leading Fireman in charge of my crew, I was a pain in the arse for Management as I would challenge the stupid things that we were asked to do. I had responsibility for others safety and I was always held accountable for my actions. Common sense is failing in all walks of life it would seem. Sadly if I was still in Service I would be sacked for being open and honest. Biting my tongue would have been useless as I learnt 'Sign Language' to help in the job and I cannot sit and listen to complete 'tosh.' Sitting on my hands and gaffer tape over my mouth would not have stopped me!
If it's wrong, it is still wrong.
I truly hope the Chief Fire Officers' can see how desperate their service personnel are right now. Making cutbacks will break more personnel as they are already near breaking point.
Again I am not here to point fingers, but as a CFO, they have a voice and can argue against dangerous cutbacks. Labels are given back and as much as I wear the ones given to me by many as being, (best keep it clean,) cantankerous, stubborn, a dinosaur for not wanting change, 'deadwood' as not getting promoted again, (for speaking the truth and unafraid to challenge,) and I can only imagine the rest. Makes me chuckle. At least I have left an impression on them.
But leaving an impression on someone can have hugely detrimental effects on them.
Not being heard or listening to them, can and will have the same.
We have all at some point in our lives been subjected to bullying and been made to feel inferior or worthless. It could have been being picked last in a team event at school or not getting the job you really wanted, and you studied so hard.
The very feeling of rejection or humiliation can have lasting damaging effects on any person. It all depends on our coping capacity at that time and our mental strength to not let it affect us.
Being able to take it as constructive criticism and turn it around, or to overthink and sink inwards and shut down. This takes courage and determination to positively move forward. I have been fortunate in that I have a sporting ability and can turn my hand to most physical games, but that said, I have always struggled in the classroom. I have to write things out and repeat them in my way for it to sink in, or just show me and it's in. I am practical-minded and this is why the Fire Service suited met. Being able to think on my feet and re-evaluate quickly, adapt and move forward. But I failed many exams at school and could have taken another path with the Air Force. A pilot I will not be, but I bet I could fly one if I had to. Show me, I will give it a go!
My point here is we try to teach children to do the things that are expected of them for the jobs, yet some kids and adults are blessed with incredible talents that are being held back from what they want to do in order to please society and for them to wear the suitable label we think they should wear.
I always debated, in a kind manner, with the Headmistress at my kid's school on Sports Days. It was the day when the active sporty kids excelled, getting recognition for their achievements. The scholars would still pass the exams yet I can relate, I had the humiliation of not passing and trying again! So try again I did. Keep trying until I passed.
We put such emphasis on one job or the interview and how does it make you feel afterwards.
Like the sports day, we can't all be winners, some will be second and some last. What we need to search for is our true skills and things that makes us sparkle unlike anyone else.
Just because we can't do something, doesn't mean that we can't do it in the future.
I was for 28 long years Fireman and during those 15 years, I created a new me being a Falconer and a person who educated others. And add a father, football coach and best cheerleader for all 3 of my kids in what they tried. I always encouraged everyone. Instructing in Karate and helping others find confidence from within themselves. Everyone has talents we just need to look harder for them. Teaching is a skill. Anyone can read from a book and say I have been educating others, but how many can say they have connected with a student and allowed them to flourish their way.
End results are the same, it's just sometimes a different path trodden.
It was exactly 1 year ago today, I sold my Bird of Prey business 'Wings and Talons', my alternative therapy to the traumas of service life. I was no longer anything. No identity. Only the labelled person from the previous people who kindly without thought threw them my way.
Judged and labelled without knowing the full facts.
So, what am I getting at here? I am no longer who I was. How can I be?
The things I have witnessed and dealt with have changed me, life is hard on us all. I do look for the good in things and here I am 1 year on having, and only starting this blog page in May 2020, I have become a writer. And I have even been asked to give an inspirational talk to a private school next year, I am still making a film documentary and have a few big exciting plans ahead for next year too.
The only limitations we have is in our minds and what others tell us.
People give you limitations and sadly we can listen.
If it's repeated numerous times, it must be true? NO! Not if it's wrong, it's still wrong!
How wonderful it would be to ignore labels and comments and believe in yourself.
The best bit is believing in yourself and showing them who you really are.
PTSD and depression are incredibly hard and everyone deals with them their own way. But always hold onto hope that you can turn things around. Even if you can use something as a distraction technique and new ventures are taken on board.
The brain can be trained as can any muscle. It just takes effort and courage.
So being listened to and heard is extremely powerful. The body will give you excuses after excuse, just quit and stop. Trust me I know!
But if you dare to listen to your thoughts and inner voice within you can have a complete change in end result.
Having someone giving words of encouragement and supporting you has tremendous results in helping you achieve.
Write your own labels and reinvent yourself. I am true to myself and I am honest.
Take away Fireman, Falconer, Karate-ka, Canoeist, Footballer, Builder, Painter and Decorator, Tiler, Father, Colleague or Mate or the pain for being honest, all of those labels mean nothing without a person making it happen.
I have removed my fire tunic, I have hung up football boots and falconry gloves, I am still and always will be a father and act accordingly to show them standards to stick to and to not accept being told that they aren't good enough, and to prove people wrong. But importantly to not lower their standards to be accepted and get the nice shiny label. False labels are false praise.
Be true to yourself and follow your instincts. Not everyone will label you or judge you.
Only when they know the full story can anyone understand.
If an outstretched hand of help is offered, then maybe reach back and grab it.
Staying connected and being heard is all part of the healing process.
Those who take the time to sit and listen to another will have compassion and a good heart.
If we have a choice, we have a chance.
I hope this inspires and encourages you to see how amazing you are.
Look back at what you've got through.
I am me, not any label. The same person made all of those things happen.
What defines me, is how I respond and react to life.
The uniform or guise didn't move unless I was wearing it.
How I conduct myself and move forwards in life.
This is the label I choose to wear.
Be inspired by your actions, if not the ones you've made, but by the new ones you will make.