Looking in the mirror I ask my reflection a simple question, “Who are you?” The girl staring back at me is silent for a moment, then she smirks, “Why ask me? I don’t have any of the answers either.” I respond, “You have to have some insight here.” She raises an eyebrow at me, “Ask someone else. I’m too busy for this. Besides, you sound like a crazy person. Go to work.” I blink back at her, walk out of the bathroom, grab my bag, and walk towards the door. Then I curse, run back to my room, and yell towards the mirror, “Forgot my shirt again! Not a word from you, lady.”
Who am I? I don’t know. Who are you?
Names have power. Labels have power. Words have power.
Kristine Ranae Hamilton. The name my parents gave me.
Kristine Ranae Noteboom. The name marriage gave me.
“Oh, I’m not… um. We’re not…”
“Ms. Noteboom then?”
“That doesn’t sound great either. Krissy is fine.”
Out of the mouths of some, a label can sound like an insult. Out of the mouths of others, it can sound like highest praise.
“How could you associate with those liberals?”
“You fight for equality. That’s something to be proud of.”
“Christian? Do you believe in fairy tales too?”
“You are a woman of conviction.”
“Ha! You’re such a freaking nerd.”
“I love that you value knowledge.”
I’m a Millennial according to the people who like to categorize other people into neat, little, generational groups. I don’t have a choice in the matter. I was born when I was born, there’s no changing that. However, the media seems to think it’s something I should be ashamed of. We are supposedly a lazy lot. Prone to living in our parents’ basements because we do not want to work. We are a drag on the economy. The worst of the worst. We make up a mere 22% of the adult population, but we are told that, somehow, we have managed to single handedly destroy a country in the 30ish years we’ve been alive.
“How do you describe yourself?”
“I don’t know. I guess I don’t really know who I am.”
“You’re an American, aren’t you? Aren’t you proud of that?”
“I used to be, but don’t you find it odd to be proud of something you were born into? I didn’t work for this. It was given to me. I’m glad I was born here, but I’m not sure I can be proud that I was. ”
“What are you? A communist?”
It’s a social world. At any given moment you can go online and see exactly what your friends and family are thinking and feeling. Epithets are hurled back and forth between groups with ease.
I’ve been told that I deserved to be raped for my outspoken feminism. I’ve been told I’m going to hell for my stance on marriage equality. One lady threatened to turn me over to CPS because she couldn’t stomach the thought of someone like me (meaning pro-choice) raising children.
“You shouldn’t be trusted raising our future. How do you live with yourself knowing you wish they had died? How can we know you won’t injure them now?”
“I can’t dignify that with a response.”
How do you decide who you are when all around you people are deciding for you.
“You’re not a real gamer.”
“You’re not a real American.”
“You’re not a real woman.”
Well shit. What do you want from me? Where do I fit in if I’m not really anything or anyone?
My hair was greasy. My body could only be described as straight. My age was thirteen. I looked in the mirror wishing for curves. Begging them to appear. My face, I’d been told, was still round with baby fat. My age was indeterminate from my height, face, and body. “You’ll be happy for that one day,” everyone and their neighbor felt it their job to inform me. “I don’t care about someday. I want to be happy now,” I would scream back silently in my blonde, passive-aggressive head.
My parents started an exercise program when I was little. They measured me. It was the first time I thought of myself as a collection of changeable numbers. I can’t own a scale anymore. If I have one, I weigh myself constantly and obsess over every tiny change in the numbers. I have a hard time eating around anyone who comments on the caloric content of my meals. I am so caught up in what other people see when they look at me.
Who am I?
Looking in the mirror again I get frustrated with the girl squinting back at me. She looks bored with my scrutiny. “WHO ARE YOU DAMMIT?!” She doesn’t answer. I snort at the girl with the bad skin and the weight problem. She rolls her eyes at the girl who can’t stop talking to herself.
I know the girl I see isn’t real, but I can’t stop seeing her.
I’m working on living honestly and unapologetically. I’m working on not letting other people dictate how I feel about who I am and what I stand for. I am trying to be healthier both mentally and physically. It isn’t easy. This is a step.
I struggle with body image.
Depression is a constant, nagging, companion.
In the past, I have been suicidal.
I do not want to own a gun.
I do not like being blonde.
My hair is the only thing I can change without affecting others.
I crave change. Often.
I’m a gamer.
I’m anti-social and an introvert.
I love books.
I’m empathetic, sometimes to a fault.
If I believe someone is being treated unfairly, I will do my best to change it.
I’m a fighter.
I’m an activist.
Paying taxes doesn’t really bother me.
The rain restores my soul.
I need watered at regular intervals, like a plant.
I need time to accept changes to my schedule.
I love computers.
Travel keeps me sane.
Fitting into my family is one of my biggest struggles.
My friends have become my second family.
I am not religious.
I do have faith.
I’m a mother.
I’m a student.
I will always have more to learn than I have time to learn it.
My life is less under my control than I wish sometimes.
I’m a feminist.
I’m a writer.
I have chosen my own path.
I am not a follower.
You cannot push me past the point of forgiveness.
My home is always open.
I’m an artist.
My weight is always on my mind.
Sometimes I drink booze.
Sometimes I eat cake.
Salad is something I make myself eat.
Meals are something I make myself eat.
I am not a runner.
I am a biker.
I like lists.
When necessary, I’m fiercely protective.
You are not my enemy, even if we disagree a little, even if we disagree a lot.
I value honesty.
I understand if you feel the need to keep things from me.
I have secrets.
I wish I had fewer secrets.
Sometimes I overshare.
Sometimes I keep too much to myself.
Who am I? I am a work in progress. I am trying to care less if me is someone you fundamentally do not like. I’m trying to realize that I am fine the way I am. I have room to grow, but I do not have to change for anyone, ever. It isn’t my job to make anyone else happy. The only standards I need to live up to are my own.