I was intending this to be a one-off thing, just an outlet I needed at a time when nothing else would do, but I think I have a lot of questions that I just want to think about and explore.
First, I am better. I don’t think depression or anxiety is something you ever really “get over,” but I’m getting better at dealing with it–recognizing the signs and figuring out better coping mechanisms, so that’s good.
Now I’ve been thinking. I’ve been studying abroad this past semester and despite my love for travel the isolation I’ve felt here, with everyone I love 6-8 hours ahead of behind me, has been hellish. I’ve had far too much time for thinking and worrying. One thing that’s been bothering me lately is my “other” identity. By that I mean that when filling out surveys and answering questions I’m getting tired of filling in that tiny little “other” bubble.
There’s race/ethnicity. Fine, I look like the whitest person you’ve ever met, but does that erase the fact that my mom is half-Filipino? Does that erase the fact that my youngest brother has darker skin than I? I know that whenever I fill out the “other” bubble, I get a skeptical look, and I just want to pen a little paragraph beside it explaining who I am, what I’m made out of. And it frustrates me because every time I fill out that bubble, I am reminded that while I will always “pass” for white, my youngest brother never will. My mom never will, my aunts and uncles and cousins never will. And it pisses me off. It pisses me off that I can’t protect my brother from other people’s bias. It pisses me off that people used to assume my mom was my nanny and not my mother. It pisses me off that I unwillingly, unwittingly benefit from my white skin. But I guess being pissed off is only a cover for being absolutely terrified that I won’t be able to protect my brother or my cousins from the stupid ignorance I know they will eventually experience. That they may have already experienced. It already makes me want to cry when I think about how my Grandma and Grandpa had to leave West Virginia to escape the stigma of an interracial marriage. I want to cry when I think of my mom dealing with people whose questions to her were always: “Who’s the mother?” “Where did you adopt them from?” “Why would you dye their hair so young?” (I and my middle brother have red hair). FUCK. I am who I am. We are who we are. Even if I were adopted would that make my mother any less my mother? NO. Even if I were adopted, would those questions be appropriate to ask? NO. My mother is a beautiful, strong, friendly woman. I know that she took those questions in stride and answered graciously. I also know that each and every question hurt her just the same. We’ve talked about it, and it just makes me so fucking mad that anyone, well intentioned or not, would hurt my mother. Sue me if I’m overprotective of my family, I love them.
Then there’s gender–and usually I’m just upset that there isn’t an “other” category. Guess that’s hypocritical of me, but there should always be an “other” option. I don’t really understand gender. I mean I get what people are asking (sort of). Usually they’re asking in what way I walk through the world, how society tends to see me as well as how I interact with society, but fuck me if gender makes no sense to me. Sex, I get, I can tell you what genitalia I currently have and want to have, but gender? I’m just me and I frankly don’t get the difference between genders anyways. I get that other people do and I’m not going to tell them that gender doesn’t matter or doesn’t exist, it just doesn’t really apply to me. What does it mean to be a woman? What does it mean to be a man? What does it mean to walk between the two? If a woman can be masculine and a man can be feminine, and neither is less of a woman or a man, then why do we bother with the distinction anyways? To make it easier to find a sexual or romantic partner? Maybe. I just don’t get it. So there’s that.
Then there’s sexuality. And, well, if you read the stuff about gender, I’m guessing you might know something about how I’ll answer this. Personally I define my sexuality as “I love who I love,” but people tend to like labels, and “I love who I love” doesn’t usually fit into the “other” box. So I usually opt for pansexual/demisexual/whatever-the-fuck. Which also doesn’t fit in the “other” box, but people usually appreciate terms they can look up more than my vague, though totally appropriate, “I love who I love.” So that’s another “other” category.
Just in general, who the hell can be defined by some ticks in boxes or filled in circles? No one! I understand why it happens because obviously people don’t have their auto-biographies lying around ready to hand in whenever, but I still hate filling out these stupid forms. Sigh.
In conclusion, I hate surveys and forms because they’re kind of stupid, and I both hate and love my “otherness” and I wish people could just realize we’re all just faulty, mistake-prone humans. Myself included. So here’s to human nature and its imperfections, here’s to mistakes and never giving up, here’s to hate and fear, and here’s to love and forgiveness, may we all live to see another sunrise and sunset.