I stare at this blank page for an assignment thinking about how my identity is also blank. It is full of possibility. It is open. It has the potential for beauty and for mess. It can spark a conversation and shut one down. It can be simultaneously hope and despair. The real reason that my identity is like a blank page though, is I don’t know what it is. I don’t know what to write down.
The seven core identities in sociology are Age, Race, Class, Sexual Orientation, Gender, Religion, and Ability. I know that I’m 34, white, able bodied (for the most part), and I’m part of the dominant Christian religion – though my Christianity might look very different from the mainstream. I’m thankfully no longer stuck in the working class bracket and I think we’re actually middle class now. These categories that I fall into shape not only how I interact with the world, but how the world interacts with me. These give me great amounts of freedom as I find myself mostly in the dominant groups of society. I have taken most of those freedoms and advantages for granted. Possibly because I’ve overlooked them so much as I’ve been too focused on where I don’t fit into society’s preferred slots for me.
I learned a couple years back through the help of someone I trust that finding black and white solutions to a grey problem will cause chaos and lead to further confusion. Too often society as a whole teaches us black and white. Binaries. Wrong or Right. Up or Down. In or Out. Good or Bad. Gay or Straight. Man or Woman. I’ve been trying to use a true and false model when I really should be using an open ended essay form.
The truth is that there is not a binary. The world is not black and white. Even social constructs aren’t. I don’t fit neatly into every category. My physical sex, I can answer that. I am female. Gender on the other hand is tricky. Gender is fiction. Our society has different gender roles than others like Papua New Guinea. I’ve finally come to the place where I can say fairly sure that I am not a man. I don’t set that in stone because I believe there are some things that are very fluid. Gender being one. It can ebb and flow. I can want to bind my chest today while wearing cargo shorts, and on the weekend wear a pushup bra and a skirt. I can ardently argue against having to wear a scarf as part of a work uniform but feel comfortable in a neck tie. I can get frustrated when I’m called sir and get equally irritated when referred to as a girl.
I am not a lady. I am not a man. I’m somewhere in between. In the grand scheme of things, does it matter? For you and the rest of the world it shouldn’t, it does, but it shouldn’t. But to me it does – I want to dig in and really get a hold of it. Not because I need it to be labeled – because I finally realize that doesn’t matter, rather so I can know myself better, so I can become increasingly comfortable with who I am and how I interact with you and with society, so I won’t feel defensive and upset when I’m referred to as a girl or sir.
I still have some ways to go in this journey. I’m sure once I complete it, there will be another one that is just waiting for me to embark on. That’s the process of living and being – filling up a blank page only to find another one waiting to be filled.