By April Lacey
When I sit and think about how each of the modules connect with one another, my mind immediately thinks about identity. In one way or another, identity was discussed in each module. During our first weeks, we talked about what the word “community” means to us and how we identify ourselves as an individual in our community. In our next set of weeks, we discussed how our culture affects our perspective of things and the process of accepting/ understanding things that we’ve never been exposed to before. In our most recent meetings, we’ve discussed representation and stereotypes. Throughout each of these meetings, I’ve been forced to think about things that I’ve never taken the time to think about before because I’ve gotten so accustomed to it. For example, when we first started discussing what community means to us, a lot of people brought up the community in which they grew up in, being both their household and their neighborhood. To me, it was very interesting to hear everyone’s experiences because our group is so diverse. I know someone in the group brought up how growing up, their neighborhood felt like “home” to them because it was a really nice community, where she could wander by herself without having to worry about being bothered by strangers - she had developed this sense of comfort because her community provided that for her. Me on the other hand, it made me think about how I’ve been in so many communities without actually being a part of them. Or I was either once a part of a certain community and now I no longer am. For example, I grew up in a Christian household and was raised to be Christian but I am no longer Christian. The neighborhood that I was living in as a child was probably the most comforting just because of the memories attached to it and the people who made up the community, but as a toddler I couldn’t do much going outside by myself. It wasn’t until I was in high school when I lived in a neighborhood where I could roam freely and not have to worry about anything. Even now that I’m older, the neighborhood that I live in now doesn’t provide that same comfort. My current neighborhood is seen as “dangerous” although I’ve been living in it for a while so I don’t view it as such, but the fact of the matter is - a lot of things do happen in my neighborhood that cause me to be more cautious if I were to be walking outside by myself. Growing up, religion was a very touchy subject in my household especially because I don’t identify as being a heterosexual woman. I’ve gone through many phases while exploring my sexuality. There was a phase in my elementary school years when I considered myself to be bisexual because I was attracted to both, women and men. I then went through a homosexual period when I reached high school and a bit of college and now, if I had to box myself in as something I would consider myself to be bisexual but growing up, I wouldn’t say I experienced or received the most welcoming community when it came to coming out. When I first came out to my mother about being attracted to girls in seventh grade, she tried to tell me that thinking another girl is pretty doesn’t mean that I’m attracted to them but at that age, I knew the difference. I tried telling her again in eight grade and she told me that I didn’t like girls for real and that I was just following a trend. She was still in denial which bothered me a lot especially because I was young. I found myself wondering why is it that nobody ever questions whether or not your attraction to the opposite sex is “real” but they always question if your attraction to the same sex is “real”. Moving on, when I came out to my grandmother, she told me “that doesn’t run in our family” and
I must say that it really hurt my feelings because what does that even mean? Out of all of my family members, my aunt was the one that comforted me with open arms and didn’t really question whether or not it was genuine. Whatever I felt is what she accepted. I know the reader is probably like, well what does your sexuality have to do with anything and I actually feel like it has to do with everything. My sexuality is a part of my identity, it’s what makes me, me and it relates to the community I grew up in. The previous modules also forced me to think about how my hair makes up my identity too. And of course it’s something that makes up my physical appearance so I’ve thought about it in that aspect but never/rarely anything deeper than that. The older I get, it’s like I connect more with my hair. I feel as though my hair is my crown and when my crown is straight so am I. It might sound cliche but its like the better my hair looks, the better I feel. Typically, whenever I’m depressed, which is a lot because I’ve been diagnosed with major depression, I feel powerless and I don’t want to do anything. But something I can say is when I don’t feel like doing anything, the one thing that I’ll always feel like doing is my hair. You ever heard the saying “when you look good, you feel good”, well I believe that, that is something very true. WHen my hair is done, that is my way of freshening myself up and refreshing...I often feel overwhelmed and drained due to my depression and other illnesses so in a way, when I wash my hair and retwist it (because I have locs), in a way - thats my way of recharging.My hair allows me to feel confident and when I am confident it allows me to have hope that I can pull myself out of the dark hole I’m in. I say hole because most of the time, when I’m sad or mad, or whatever the case may be when it comes to my more negative emotions, I feel like I’m trapped by myself because I feel very misunderstood. When i feel misunderstood it kind of takes a toll on me. Within these past few modules, they’ve all caused me to look at life differently because my culture, my community and my upbringing have had a huge impact on me, much like everyone else's culture, community and upbringing have had on them. Sometimes I further think about my community and I began to wonder..why does any of this matter? If life is going to end anyways you know? I often have this voice in my head that has split consciousness. You know like how in the movies, whenever the main character is trying to make a really intense decision, they have the angel on one shoulder and the devil on another, but they’re the thoughts and the pressures of the same person - they just both think from the complete opposite of each other. SO, for me, I have my spiritual side and my non-spiritual side. These are the way I separate my two different sides because my spiritual side believes that every life matters. In a sense of, what you do in this life, as a human or whatever you feel like you (I say this because I believe as we go through our many different journeys of lif, in this one we are just spiritual beings having a human experience) ...but whatever you do in this life, it matters. Whatever you did in your past life, it matters. Whatever you do in your future life, it matters and so on. So the spiritual side is always whispering in my left ear telling me “make the best of it April” or “keep going April” you know, the basics. So of course, I try to do just that by allowing myself to feel and embrace that i’m having a human experience and many people don’t make it this far so I might as well take advantage of the opportunity. Now, when my non-spiritual side is whispering in my ear on my right side and it’s constantly telling me like “nothing in the world matters”. Although I should probably listen more to the “angel” or the more positive side, I tend to be a pessimistic person and that is something that I’ve always hated about myself. So, after each episode of event that tends to take a toll on me, I try to make my experience and my reaction better than the last.
Each time I try to track my growth in some form or another while and sometimes I really succeed and there are the times where I fail.I apologize for typing so much.