Excerpt: Domestic Correspondant II

…On the whole, I’ve never had a problem with being unusual. When I was very young, I didn’t realize that I wasn’t what everyone else thought was normal, and later I liked it. I once wore the labels “weird” and “nerdy” as badges of pride, but I really don’t see the point anymore in using such classifications as marks of distinction. I guess it sounds pretty arrogant to essentially say that I think it’s silly to subscribe to labels, but I really do. If I read a lot of books, take classes for fun, and am generally interested in learning, I don’t need to attach myself to the connotations, or the denotations, either, of the word “nerd.” I’m just me, doing my thing regardless of what category I might be pigeonholed into.

I think it’s particularly difficult for people with diverse backgrounds and life experiences. It’s not always so easy as picking “white,” “male,” “middle class” off a checklist, or even “Asian” and “four year college” for me. I have difficulty determining to what extent I identify as a “person of color,” as a “feminist,” as a “writer” or “critic.” I generally find comfort and stability in the naming of things, but not myself. Perhaps it’s reductive, but why do I need to differentiate between myself and others in so many ways? I of course understand the need for finding common ground, but do we have to establish so many fences to do so? The more we pen ourselves in, the harder it is to get out. Why isn’t it enough to say I am me and you are you, why do we have to shelter ourselves under the umbrellas of stereotypes?

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