the problem with categories is they have to exclude in order to work. we spend more time saying what we are not than what we are. the category has to be policed in order for it to be cohesive. this requires a constant sense of anxiety: am i enough? am i real? & a constant sense of threat: what if i fail? what if they don’t believe me? your worth is dependent on your ability to disappear.
there is loneliness to that: the isolation of being surrounded by people who call you family that you don’t even know. constantly afraid that the people who hold you close will come for you, too, say “we are not that.”
i think a lot about how much work & energy goes into maintaining the gender binary. it’s exhausting. how it restricts movement (don’t walk like that you look ___), voice (don’t speak like that you sound___), creativity (don’t dress like that you look___), romance (don’t love like that you look___) behavior (don’t act like that you seem ___) i spent the majority of my life trying to be a category because i wanted to have community. i compromised my difference because i didn’t want to be alone.
i was terrified that if i was truly myself people would leave me behind.
but then i realized that i was lonely already: identities, categories, norms, assumptions all were barriers to meaningful intimacy. they cared about a word more than they cared about me. they cared about a norm more than they cared about me. & so i gave up & i said i am “_______” ! & i became nothing and found everything. in that emptiness i found the intimacy i had been searching for my entire life: people who loved me for me not my category, worth determined by my creativity not my conformity, beauty by from my art not my erasure.
INDIVIDUALITY is NOT LONELINESS.
the more i became myself the more i found the people i had been waiting my entire life to meet.
support the author