Current Musings on Identity, Perception and Choice.
How much control do you really have over how you are perceived?
I have always felt as though I was fighting against a tide of assumptions. In a world of snap judgments, I wondered what one look said about me.
Tall, athletic, box-braids and black.
Tell me a story from that limited description. I can guarantee you, it isn't mine.
As a minority in the United States, the privilege of being seen innately as an individual is, in many ways, still being garnered.
From one look you cannot uncover my heritage, beliefs, or passions.
You would never guess my name, Chinemenma, from a glance.
You would never know my love of free writing, Harry Potter and psychological thrillers.
The facts are these: It takes effort to know someone, you have to actually want to.
Not everybody wants to.
And that is the dilemma.
It is easier to skate by on generalizations,
even though life is so much richer if your willing to listen.
I used to worry much more about how I was perceived. Cultivating a precise image sourced much of my teenage anxiety. But as I entered into college and away from my insular Massachusetts town, some of that caring was released. Ithaca, though small had a completely different feel than any other space that I had ever inhabited. Though by no means perfect or free from our countries many racial issues, the people I met and the general vibe of this hippy campus allowed me to be the most "myself " I have ever been.
It was in that space, I met the man I am now engaged to marry and the friends I can truly consider those who know me best.
I feel lucky to have had this time to come into knowing myself, free from what I felt were the constraints I constantly needed to defy growing up. I felt there was less of an expectation I was to fulfill, and with that pressure gone, that I could come into my own in my own way.
We all have our escapes and places where we go to be ourselves.
The problem is once you leave those comfortable spaces, and it all comes flooding back upon you.