I’ve written here before about feeling like I don’t belong to any one group or identity. Actually, I am most comfortable in hyper–multicultural spaces — places where mixed–race couples and gender–illusionists abound. Luckily, those are the worlds through which I mostly move (shout out to Central Brooklyn).
But I haven’t always felt comfortable in my surroundings or in my own skin. Most of my life, I felt like a complete and utter mess: speaking wrong, dressing wrong, listening to the wrong music… I was like this little girl here trying to hula hoop, but ALL the time, with no hula hoop, and less fashion sense.
In high school, I spent days memorizing a Monty Python sketch and considered performing it for a talent show (only grace saved me). I also did palm reading in the school atrium. And listened to a lot of Depeche Mode (was I the only black person at the Merriweather Post Pavilion 1988 concert?). I was a HUGE weirdo, and it’s a miracle I had any friends.
But how could I not have been a weirdo? No one explained American culture to us when we got here and my mom was too busy trying to keep us clothed and fed while my dad engaged in politics back home. So we had duck for Thanksgiving (my mom’s reply to our pleas for a turkey: “A bird is a bird”). And we wore these getups one Halloween. What are we? No, please tell me, I have no idea… Halloween still scares me.
You don’t have to be an immigrant to tap in to this feeling of being a mess and a weirdo (though it really, really helps). Queer people feel it. Super nerdy girls feel it. Anyone who has zero f*cks to give about fashion trends feels it… But here’s the thing, the multicultural messes will soon be the multicultural masses. Yes, just in sheer numbers, but not only.
Weirdos. Will. Slay. Because not fitting in to any one community is a super power. But only if you choose to fit into yourself first.
Those of us who have spent a childhood and a lifetime having to navigate different communities, groups, identities, languages, cultures, customs, norms and assumptions — we weirdos, we are very adept and dexterous and resilient as f*ck. We understand and connect with all sorts of people.
True liberation doesn’t come from changing everything around you to feel comfortable and pleasant and familiar. Good luck with that. Freedom comes from being at ease with whatever and whoever is in front of you.
And that starts with cultivating ease with how you are, right now. If I can’t be with one breath, how can I be with my beautiful, messy life. If I can be with my own complexities and imperfections, I can be with the contradictions and challenges of this mixed–race, mixed–culture world. And I always fit in to nature…
Feel like you don’t fit in? Good, you’re right where you need to be.
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