It has me reflecting on labels/identifiers. I throw this vest on proudly with its identifier. I am a runner that is blind and having a vest that identifies that aspect of me is helpful to me and others. I don't associate anything negative with this identifier/label, at all. I forget its even on. When someone cheers me on I realize they are referring to the vest. I thank them and acknowledge my amazing friends. I couldn't do it without them. Their vest could read ... willing to watch out for potholes not only for self but friend, willing to run at the same pace as someone else for a really long time, amazing runner, etc.
I laugh remembering when I first began wearing it ... Shannon, I don't think I'm an athelete. I know its good to wear -- are you okay if I wear this? :). Fast forward to now. It is empowering. I don't think twice about throwing on this vest (that needs some tlc now).
This vest with its label identifies an aspect about me. How someone attributes that identifier is up to them. I don't have to worry about that. I just get to run and feel good about my journey. This vest is visible to others. I acknowledge that each of us have vests that we put on ... sometimes difficult that become part of who we are in time that can also be empowering. Sometimes we are wearing a vest that no one is aware of ... these are not easy vests to wear and sometimes we don't get the support we need with an invisible vest. We often wear a vest that others may not understand. We really can't understand someone else's journey.
I would hope that no matter what the vest is that someone puts on 'blind athelete', experiencing anxiety today, going through a very difficult loss, ... the list could go on and on, we could embrace and cheer them on.
Whatever your vest is, I hope you have support around you who acknowledges you have the vest, who is helping you sewing that vest, cheering you on to wear it, while you are wearing it someone recognizes it isn't easy and supports you, if it gets thrown in the wash - someone is there to help you resew on the letters, and so forth!