Standing Out: The Struggle to Fit In

Source: https://onefamily.ie/how-to-support-your-child-when-they-struggle-to-fit-in/

So it’s been two weeks since my raw as hell, super-personal, I-swear-I-don’t-regret-it post on asexuality.

And after spending some serious, perhaps over-analyzing, time on it, I’ve realized a few things.

While everything I said was from a sincere place, I believe my post took a position of blame, something that I had not intended when composing it over the last four or so years.

So, until proven otherwise, I’ll continue to identify as a hetero-romantic asexual (say that five times fast). However, that doesn’t mean my lack of what is considered ‘healthy growth’ in a hyper-sexualized world is strictly due to my orientation.

Society doesn’t always take kindly to people who are different, at least not at first. Being the awkward black girl who likes playing video games, watching anime and reading fantasy books seems cool now (right??) but that was not the case growing up.

The struggle to find friends, let alone characters in fictional stories, that I could identify with became a huge hurdle starting in fourth grade. My family moved from a diverse area on Long Island, to a near vanilla-white community further east. And what I took as bad jokes and poor attempts at friendliness at the time, turned out to be (mostly) subtle hate and racism.

I’ll never forget how one student said my skin was the color of dirt during recess, or when a friend said I couldn’t be vanilla in the ice cream game because I was chocolate, even though the point of the game was to choose your favorite flavor, and mine happened to be vanilla. Or when my teacher told me to choose any country in Africa for a family heritage project when I explained my ancestors were enslaved and no records currently existed. That was all in fifth grade, mind you, and my 11 year-old self didn’t really attribute the comments as racist. I was too busy being excited for the next ┬áScholastic book fair.

As a child, I was cheerful and pleasant with most people, but I kept to myself save a few friends. I only ventured forward in large group activities. I performed in school plays and played percussion in band. I was in chorus and I helped write and participate in a few public service announcements with my school.

(A single video of one of my PSAs still exists. We were 12. It’s pretty rough. But Facebook won’t let me embed it here and the person who shared it has tough privacy settings :-/ )

I found my closest friends were other “outcasts;” goths, geeks, punks and the like. They didn’t judge me for what I liked; in fact they introduced to me music, tv shows and other things that I never would’ve discovered on my own. One of those friends got me a job when I was having zero luck out of college, and another gave me a place to stay for nearly two years when I moved to Orlando. I couldn’t have asked for better friends in high school or in adulthood.

So I took that awareness of not fitting in from grade school to college and into my twenties, always conscious of how different I was. I didn’t see it as a hindrance; but I learned to understand that people would keep me at arms length because of it, unsure of how to see me, read me or talk to me.

While I’m not blaming my interests or personality for how I’ve experienced social and romantic relationships as a young adult, it does provide me another perspective into how I’ve arrived at this place in my head and heart.

I think I will continue to periodically post on this topic of asexuality and romanticism. It grants me the opportunity to bear witness to my own growth over the last ten years or so. It also allows me to put together the pieces of the puzzle that is my life, socially, romantically, and professionally (seeing as I’m a learning to become a journalist and all that).

Thank you again, if you’ve elected to read yet another personal post of mine. It’s not meant to showcase anything other than my headspace going into 2019, and beyond. I hope it helps, for your sake and mine.

 

Advertisements