I felt like no one was really looking out for me, that I was marginal and incidental. I compensated by being spongelike, impressionable, and available to whatever and whoever provided the most comfort, the most sense of belonging. I was learning two sets of skills simultaneously: adaptation – linguistic and aesthetic – in order to fit in, but also, how to survive on my own.
We fluff them and fold them and nudge them and enhance them and bind them and break them and embellish them beyond measure; then, as we drive them up to the college interviews that they’ve heard since birth are the gateway to the lives they were destined to lead based on nothing more than our own need for it to be true, we tell them, with a smile so tight it would crack nuts, ‘Just be yourself.
Motherhood is still the great unknown. For some, it brings incomparable happiness and enriches their identity. Others manage as best they can to reconcile contradictory demands.
When was it exactly that I became… this? By small degrees, I suppose. One act presses hard upon another, on a path we have no choice but to follow, and each time there are reasons. We do what we must, we do what we are told, we do what is easiest. What else can we do but solve one sordid problem at a time? Then one day we look up and fine we are… this.
Being gay is not just what I do, but who I am. It is part of how I choose to live my life even if I never chose.
To ask who we are represents a primary reflex in human consciousness. Every person seeks to understand him or herself and reach a verifiable and cohesive image of his or her own identity.
I fall in love with Paraíso. It’s like a giant playground where I’m never scolded for running around recklessly, where I’m almost overwhelmed with the amount of attention and love I receive from Mami’s family. In New York, I’m invisible.
When we own our beliefs, we have clear boundaries. We know what we believe and we know what others believe. There is no confusion. Our identity is strong to us and everyone else.
It turns out that knowing how loved we are by God makes all the difference in the kind of people we will become.
Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.