As an adult (kind-of), I continuously look back on my growing up years and have the ability to recognize the reasons why I am the way I am. The good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful are all products of how I was raised, my personal experiences, what I saw, what I heard, and what I did. I often get into these self-evaluative moments, like the one I am in right now. It gives me clarity for who I am today. It’s the idea of the Sankofa, looking back to move forward.
As a child I constantly struggled for identity, I grew up in a pretty white world with the exception of my family and church life. But as a child, adolescent, teenager, all you really want to do, especially for girls, is to fit in. Well, I don’t think I ever quite got there. There are moments now that I wish I could transplant myself (who I am today) and go back to those times of growing up. I would have been able to be bold, be who I am, stand up for what I believed, stick up for those that were made fun of. I wouldn’t have allowed the pretty blonde stick people set the standard of beauty for me. I wouldn’t have allowed the blue-eyed beauties to take advantage of my wanting to fit in. I wouldn’t have allowed the white teachers to mispronounce my last name year after year. I wouldn’t have allowed the damn PB&J lunches deter me from eating my delicious Bulgogi sandwiches made with love from my mom.
But, alas, I can’t go back. I can only take those experiences from my past and move on into my future. Perhaps this is a huge reason why I am constantly aware of race and culture in my environment. Perhaps this is part of why I am constantly speaking about individuality and being “good enough”. The need to define myself; who I am, what I am and what I stand for is so important in a world and society where I can literally get lost. There is a constant struggle– battle for identity. There are painful race, culture, and class issues in every stage of life. This is why I anticipate racism, classism, sexism. CONSTANTLY. I realize that those around me get tired of hearing it from me, I realize that at some point it has turned into my issue, my problem. But please, just learn with me and be patient. I have a point I am trying to make. I don’t deny my anger, my frustration, my constant need to banter about race issues. But there’s something there, there’s something to it.
Even in adulthood, my question lingers, where do I fit in. I have become quite fluid, able to move through the different groups in my life. But it’s a well-played trick, one that I’ve become quite good at. A trick that I promise you, I am not the only one playing. The questions are ever present: where do I feel most comfortable. Most accepted. Most loved. Most understood.