I need to prioritize visits to see Dad’s side of the family more often. It makes me so happy to be with them.
In spite of my own polite nature, respect is not something I generally expect to receive. Maybe things would be different if respect was not immediately assigned to me on the basis of my race—but in my current racial reality, respect is not something I demand through my actions. I try to communicate respectfully, transparently, and honestly as it is possible for me to do so, and I do so compulsively at times. Often, this seems to backfire—people are confused about my intentions; people don’t trust where I’m coming from.
For as long as I’ve been conscious and speaking full sentences, differences of class and preferential treatment have been pointed out to me. I do not pretend that all people are treated equally and have equal opportunities.
I’m at a loss for how to combat this reality. I feel like I’m generally an effective communicator, but I can’t change the systems I symbolize to those I encounter. I need to build a relationship to form mutual understanding, and I can’t always do that in the spaces I occupy. I’m not always given that chance. I don’t know how to build trust.
Currently, I am a racial minority in nearly all of the places I go—down my street, in my neighborhood, during my commute, and at my workplace. This is the first time in my life it’s been this way. I do not equate this experience with other race-based experiences, nor do I intend to speak as a representation of life for a racial minority. I have a choice to live elseplace, which already differentiates me.
I wish my politics, my personality, my history, my values, and my beliefs were as visually accessible as my race. That these could immediately replace the symbols and stereotypes that are assigned to me when I walk into a space in which I am a racial minority but also a symbol of the Powers that Be. Powers we both hate; powers we both fight. Powers I am safer to vocally oppose than others—because at the end of the day, the system is set up to support people who look and act like me. I am able to reason within such systems in ways that are unfairly advantageous, and I am hyperaware of this reality.
I don’t know how to communicate my trustworthiness, intelligence, or value systems except through my actions. So many people see me as timid, passive, and naive. I’m gentle, sensitive, and soft-spoken—but these traits are not the same. I do not assert power and dominance over others because that type of power is not something I want. It’s not something that makes me feel comfortable.
But it’s important to many other people because it’s something that hasn’t been historically granted to them. To me, it seems fair in the Grand Scheme of Things to allow others to command respect when they haven’t received it, when they don’t expect it to be automatically granted by another person. Often, others stop trying to steamroll me when they recognize I’m not competing for power and am willing to give some of my own away in favor of understanding, compassion, and curiosity.
Where this gets muddled is when I witness profound disrespect and lack of compassion from the periphery—abuse and age discrimination inside a community of which I am not a member. I see actions that—to me—perpetuate a culture of violence, and I don’t know how to help. Anything I say can be—and is—seen as a broad cultural misunderstanding. It is assumed I grew up in the suburbs and can’t possibly know what a child of color needs to survive. The same systems that were thrilled to have help don’t want help that will challenge them, at least not from a white girl. And I don’t know how to be challenging, respectful, and culturally sensitive at the same time.
This is a really raw first draft of something I’m working on. My digital media program is giving me flashbacks!
Clut-clut-clut-clut-clut-clut-clut-clut. When I was fourteen, I discovered the blogosphere and realized how much people could put out there. I felt safe there, because I was a teenage girl with no strong sense of her own boundaries, and because others were making themselves so vulnerable. I gave myself permission to do the same.
Vroosh. Down I rode—taking the front seat of this generation’s technological rollercoaster, slicing through the air in the age of oversharing. We are the first generation to be raised by the Internet: a social blessing and social curse.
I’m twenty-five, but I’m still that teenage girl. Fortunately, I’ve had over ten years to push and pull and flex my own limits, and to settle on a couple keepers.
I no longer live in the world of Xanga. It shut down this past summer (2013), and I hastily downloaded my own teenage girl blog archives, which will likely remain on my harddrive, unreread, until it inevitably crashes.
Probably, I should save them somewhere external as well.
I’m a digital hoarder.
I’m a compulsive sharer, too. It helps me feel connected, plugged-into the world. Unfortunately, sometimes it prevents me from living in the present moment.
I am not alone in this phenomenological expression.
There’s an xkcd comic from several years ago…
I won’t say it’s “all I can think” (about) when I decide on a caption in my brainspace before uploading it alongside its imagemate. I am out in the real world, living. But if a scene, a conversation, or a product catches my attention, and I think I can do something fun with it, I want to immortalize it somehow. I want to make the memory last.
I’m human, after all.
This transcription effort was first enabled through my relationship with Xanga. It was fed with the rising popularity of Facebook. It was through these modes that my writing, without disrupting my shyness, allowed me to speak to a semi-public audience. I could communicate my ideas to others beyond the scope of a single person.
I love the space carved out for this style of interaction. I can live, and I can bring it home. I can upload my memories to the Internet and immediately share my experiences with others through photography and words. They can become a conversation.
This orchestration is not always mindfully composed, however. My dilemma is this: how do we bridge the gap between our mindful selves and our connected selves, in the digital age?
Sometimes writing is meditative for me. Sometimes writing is my only focusing tool. I spend a great deal of my time corresponding through email and text, but also building phrases for a broader audience.
But sometimes I need to zoom out and step back for my own sake.
As I said, I type and text and share compulsively most of the time.
Sometimes I need to write for myself.
My sister’s death has impacted everything, but specifically relevant is the idea that we leave these papertrails behind when we die. It was and is distressing, finding her to-do lists and unsent letters. It’s hard to write without an intended audience already, as you’re not sure what tone to use, but even in my journals I’ve found it difficult to write without an accessible witness to my thoughts. Once I entered the world of blogging, this became true. After accidentally and intentionally reading things I know her living self never intended me to read, it’s especially hard to step back from my own walls placed between Self and Other and to write with abandon.
I know that this means I need to practice being alone with myself and my thoughts. But why is it a problem when I’m not?
I think it becomes the largest problem when my compulsive sharing, as I’ve stated, prevents me from fully existing in the present moment. This restlessness, perhaps, comes from wanting a reaction—wanting others to acknowledge, comment on, and validate my existence. [edit: but maybe it’s less of a reaction I need and more to know my experience is seen. Does anyone remember page counters? Qualitative witnessing is better than numbers, for sure, but it’s awesome to know your words have reached people.] [note to self: my preferred style of therapy has a lot to do with this form of witnessing, too.] Maybe I’m worried that if there’s no one around to see what I see, I’ll stop living comparable realities.
But this is already the case. Facebook, especially, bears witness to this fact. Intrapersonal experience is more accessible thanks to social media, but showing does not equal sharing. It can be rejected just as easily as it can be understood.
I’m an emotionally intense person, today moreso than others, so it is not surprising that this makes me want to cry, but:
my newly-paired-with-me Mentee, a senior in high school, just sent me—in a second of two very professionally-worded scheduling emails, reaching out to set up our next meeting—a request:
"Would it be cool if I bring some of my poetry, too?"
OF COURSE. THAT WOULD BE THE GREATEST GIFT. PLEASE SHARE YOUR PRETTY-PLACED WORDS WITH ME.
I wonder how the trajectory of my own life might have changed if I had the courage at ages sixteen, seventeen, eighteen
to share my privately-composed, nonacademic musings with an adult instead of a blog. What sister ship could I have sailed, and would it have come to dock into my present reality?
[By the way, in case I am starting to sound like (more of) a Crazy Person, the “sister ship” thing is a concept I have adopted from Ms. Cheryl Strayed.]
Night before a first-time commute/firstdayofsomething: obsessively writing and rewriting down your train—>train—>bus schedule and directions just in case your phone loses signal and you can’t access Google maps and arranging your outfit so that you will be ready just in case something disastrous happens in the morning—even though Most Likely, you will be ready too early and sitting around anxiously for 20 extra minutes before it’s time to leave, lest you be AWKWARDLY early.
Does anybody else with pets (who cannot salvage anything that gets thrown into the hamper because of all the lingering pet hair that gathers there) ever spend an entire day thinking, “Wow, I should do laundry today; I have a MEETING tomorrow and need nice clothes for it,” then despite this, neglect to do the laundry anyway, thinking the pair of cheap, black dress pants hanging in the closet that has been worn two times too many without being washed, has lost its shape, and will not flatter any of your minimal curves for this reason will just have to do?
Well, that’s how I’ve been reasoning all day, but I just serendipitously found the second-best-fitting pair of snug black dress pants that I own in my closet while consolidating my fall/winter wardrobe. I must have only worn them for part of the day and decided that they could be reworn with minimal consequences.
Yeah, I’m not the cleanest person there ever was.
I STILL HAVE THE OPTION OF LOOKING FOXY TOMORROW is what I’m saying!
Sorry if you made it this far. This nugget of excitement was deemed too boring for Facebook but needed to be shared somewhere in cyberspace. And so I turned to you, dear Tumblr.
spanish and italian: So THESE words are feminine and THESE words are masculine, and you ALWAYS put an adjective AFTER the noun.
french: haha i dont fuckin know man just do whatever
german: LET'S ADD A NEUTRAL NOUN HAHA
english: *shooting up in the bathroom*
gaelic: the pronounciation changes depending on the gender and what letter the word starts and ends with and hahah i dont even know good fucking luck
polish: here have all of these consonants have fun
japanese: subject article noun article verb. too bad there's three fucking alphabets lmao hope your first language isn't western
welsh: sneeze, and chances are you've got it right. idfk
chinese: here's a picture. draw it. it means something. it can be pronounced three different ways. these twenty other pictures are pronounced the same but have very different meanings. godspeed.
arabic: so here's this one word. it actually translates to three words. also pronouns don't really exist. the gender is all in the verb. have fun!
latin: here memorize 500 charts and then you still dont know what the fuck is happening
sign language: If you move this sign by a tenth of an inch, you'll be signing "penis"
I don't know if I have the right to reblog this since I've only ever really studied French (and English), but these made me laugh.