Sunday, September 10, 2006

Life on the periphery

Okay so Periphery is my new favorite word; don't ask me why, I just think it's kind of cool.

So on May 20, 2006 I graduated from College, on that day I put an end to my life at my campus that had been my world for four years. In college I created this identity, I created an image of who I wanted to be, who I thought people wanted me to be, and I looked forward to "fitting in". The person I was in college, fit in to my plan of a normal life. My whole entire life I've always kept people at a distance, it wasn't until college that I had found a real best friend, someone who I confided in and trusted. All of my other best friends had been very superficial; I never let them know what was really going on with me. When I was in the third grade, my mother went to California for rehab; I told my best friend nothing. I remember being in so much pain, but I kept silent; I never wanted anyone to know I wanted to be the normal Black American girl. I remember being so plagued by the feeling that there was some part of me that is just not acceptable and can not be revealed. I learned how to play the normal game so well. In the fifth grade Immature was HUGE, all the girls had crushes on them so I picked one Romeo and he was to be my crush. I filled my walls with all of their posters, I learned every fact about them, I did everything that I saw all the white girls on TV do when they had a crush on a group. TV was my guide to a normal life, and that's what I was going to have, I was going to be Stephanie Tanner from full house, or Judy from Family matters (until they kicked her off). When I got a boyfriend in high school, once again I went to TV and friends for a guide or normalcy. I did all the things "normal" teenage girls did, I snuck out of the house, and I snuck kisses to my boyfriend in the hallway of my high school. I had my "be normal" check list and I was working hard to fill it all in, and I never understood why I always felt incomplete. My whole entire 22 years had been spent trying to figure out what normal was and then be it, and that is a very draining/depressing existence.

What is this "normal", and why is it so compelling?
It wasn't until my second semester of my senior year when I finally began to burn out, and simultaneously I began to meet and get closer to people who weren't submitting to the "normal" mold, but they were happy, and while they weren't accepted by everyone they had a strong support system that sustained them, and they were living on the periphery. In these months since I've come out to myself and my best friend, I have found the strength to live on the periphery. This is the best I've felt in a very long time, despite my ups and downs and panic attacks about being ousted from my family and community, I feel whole. I've realized that the way this world is set up there really isn't any room for me in the "normal" world, but I'm okay with that. I don't want any parts of a world in which people are made to feel that they need to fit in to a specific mold. Screw that I'll make a whole new mold and live the way I feel is best. I realize that I'm on the outside, by the way it's assumed that I must like men, the way a guy in my program feels the constant need to ask me if he has a chance with me, the way I must search for movies/books that have characters that reflect me. I got the message I'm not in the heteronormative norm, gotcha. This is the first time in my life that I've been okay with me; I no longer want to be Stephanie Tanner (THANK GOD!).

So here I am living my life stepping further and further away from my "ideal" life, with the Amazing afrocentric, conscious black man, the wedding with the super white dress and all my bridesmaids, the kids, the house, the wonderful church family in my traditional black church, all of it. Now the ideal life has changed it's a lot less restrictive, all I want is to be happy with the woman of my dreams and the support of my immediate family.

So I have one big message to the world that told me I had to be something anything but myself.....


1 comment:

Sly Civilian said...

"I want to make graphic what it takes to survive, to produce, to labor, and to create in a world system whose major economic impulses and cultural investments are pointed in a direction away from youm your country, or your people. Such neglect can be a deeply negating experience, oppresive and exclusionary, and it spurs you to resist the polarietes of power and prejudice, to reach beyond and behind the inviduous narratives of center and periphery."

Once again, I can't help but quote Homi Bhabha. That clip is from the intro to Location of Culture, and in two sentences reaches a resonance with the great contradiction of living on the margins. There is amazing potential in our choices as we begin to see behind the curtain into the workings of Oz, but we remain exiled in our own communities and lives.

"I have found the strength to live on the periphery"

May it always be so. :)

“I remember how being young and black and gay and lonely felt. A lot of it was fine, feeling I had the truth and the light and the key, but a lot of it was purely hell.” ~Audre Lorde