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Identity: Sshh…

Joined: 9/29/2014
Posts: 1
Indian? No, not American Indian. Asian Indian? Never been there? Oh, Asian-American? Pacific-Islander? Hyphenated? To be or not be, my boggled mind desperately seeks peace. Why do I need to be sorted, put in a box, and then put away? Next… the roll call goes on. Another setting, another set of parameters within which I am measured: math whiz, speech team leader, musical genius, brain bee. Not me, sorry. Hamlet I am, as I see myself “suffer the slings and arrows of” speculation and assessment. I resist becoming a stamped envelope.
Once stamped, the envelope of my life will have a set destination. I will follow routine, predictable paths, and not baffle judgment. I know who I am-just not what THEY think. When the brilliance of my accomplishments shines, I make excuses for the loss of others: “It means nothing…. I just got lucky.” Already, I can see the smirk, relieved that I am really not the over-achiever that I am made out to be. Wincing, I forgive, covering up my hours of practice, my self-inflicted solitude, my triumph under the garb of “chance.” Hamlet recedes in the distance; I do not share his indecision. Perhaps the answer is not to be, so I can just pretend to be one of them.
As a teen, I am expected to be non-conformist, rebellious, and angry, but the very act of defining me has already made a conformist out of me. Identity cannot be bestowed; it has to be recognized. “I” precedes all the seven letters in that word; “I” must realize who I am and what I may become. I sail through every net cast to trap me. Every adult that I encounter, demands to know the grade that I am in, and then, what I want to be. Out of blatant spite, I come up with impossible professions and career interests, like neuropsychoeconomist. My identity lies not in being labelled; I am who I am.
I don’t like the bright whiteness of hallways, not just because they bother my rigid gas permeable lenses, but because they act as lightning, casting shards of brightness on memories of other white walls. I walked at fifteen months in the hallways of the Cardinal Bernadin Cancer Center of Loyola Hospital. Who knows how far back we remember? I know that I am unnerved by white walls; ironically, they have been the foundation on which I have built my survival dreams. Overcoming a terminal illness = knowing what it means to be alive. Overcoming the fear of failure to overcome = a survivor. Each day, detached, like a bystander, I watch my identity evolve. Every time I think I have figured myself out, I see my elusive identity ahead, waiting for me to catch up before it eludes me again. No, Hamlet, the answer can only be to be.
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