When I was young, my mother taught me that she was better on tequila. Now that I’m a little older, I’ve discovered I run on wine.
I used to like to do everything with an equal level of mediocrity, to make sure that everything I did had breathed a level of inadequacy. Because you are born being told what you are, and raised to believe it is all you are. What they don’t tell you is that it’s no longer about what you are.
It’s about what you become.
When I was young, I failed everything twice to say that I’ve tried it.
Once, out of frustration and disappointment, English teacher pointed at a girl in my class and asked me what the difference was between us was.
He said it was the fact that she was bathed in excellency because she worked for it–but I was born from excellency, and refused to do anything with it.
I didn’t understand, because I was taught that my excellency was a derivative of my consistent lack of it.
In this life I used to think my worth was determined by my uniqueness; by the contradiction in my actions compared to my peers. I was taught that my virginity was my gift, because my body was like a product, and I was useless if used. I instilled my value in my refusal of sexual promiscuity.
When I was seventeen I had numbers for everything as if they were stats to be written on the back of my baseball card: waiting to be traded and plastic-sleeved, kept in a binder of things someone collected and never touched. When I was seventeen: I had kissed one boy in December, held four hands, hugged sixteen members of the opposite sex and had never been seen naked, or touched mid-thigh.
I measured every inch of my body–calf width, thigh width, hips, waist, breasts, arms. I counted every calorie, slept through meals obsessively, and wore clothing three sizes larger to hide breasts I was told were too large to be desirable.
In my household East met West like water met land, and somewhere inbetween my father and my mother, my identity became a reef break.
People will tell you that there is no difference between a girl and a boy; but the difference is that they must tell you you are no different.
At eighteen, I fell in love–and shared the parts of me I saved, scrimped, and kept. Movies and books and all of pop culture like to tell you how wondrous it is; how special and unyielding your first love would be. But it’s hard to have explained to you what you have never experienced, and all I ever knew became everything I had been told to ever want.
At twenty, I fell apart–and thought that this was the end of me: I had given all I had kept sacred, and there was nothing left to share. Your first heartbreak hurts the most not only because you never knew the feeling, but because for the first time in your life you realize love is not everything.
Eventually, I learned what I wish I had been taught: my love, my intelligence, my value and my worth were never based on a contingency. My identity is not based on my level of sexual promiscuity, width of waist or level of proposed inadequacy. Who I am could never be given away; traded, kept, or stolen.
And this is the point, I think: who you are is just endless possibility–and what you are… is just infinite.
One thought on “The story of how I learned of what I was.”
“The circumstances of ones birth are irrelevant. It is what you do with the gift of life that determines who you are.”
I think he said it better but I just like Pokemon