Fan Friday—Identity

Let’s talk about identity, only because I want to and am feeling contrary today. Yes, I know I it’s Saturday. Again, contrary.

A person can “identify” however he or she chooses, but that doesn’t change facts. Just because you “feel” something, doesn’t make it true. Feelings are subjective. Refer to the first paragraph if you must.

I may not feel contrary tomorrow, or later today, or in five minutes. Some would say I must “always” feel contrary. In the spirit of contrariness, allow me to disagree with that.

Over the course of my life, I’ve “felt” many things, at many times, in many ways. None of those things change who I am, by virtue of DNA or ancestry or chromosomes or any other scientific measure. This is a fact.

Regarding Caitlyn and Rachel, both in the news right now, they can change whatever they want, they can claim whatever identities they want, either or both are fine by me—but until science can strip away existing DNA and replace it by a person’s choice, they are both still whatever or whoever or however they were born.

This is a fact.

I understand feeling “different,” like you’re in the wrong place or time, or even, I suppose, we can extrapolate that to one feeling he or she is “in the wrong body.” But “feeling” doesn’t make it a fact.

For decades, I’ve felt anxious, dealt with what many would call imaginary fears. Hell, sometimes *I* have called them imaginary. But other times, those fear were damn real. To me. Not to anyone else. Those fears were not facts.

Here’s an example: if you “feel” like you’re suddenly going to stop breathing, and wonder what will happen if you do, if you get yourself all worked up over this, you have fear; real fear. But that fear doesn’t turn off your breathing; that fear is a feeling.

Don’t you act different ways around different people? Say, drinking buddies or church folks? Or children and adults? No? Maybe it’s just me.

Let’s say you’re at a kid’s birthday party—you might act a little silly. You might feel nostalgic. Neither of those things makes you a kid again. Later, you might remember those feelings—you might remember them often—but you STILL are not changed into a kid. Adults who act like children all the time, we’ve seen them in the news too, are NOT children.

I used to tell my kids, “I understand why you’re feeling ____, and you can feel that all you want, but that doesn’t mean you can act on it.” And yes, that was in the context of temper tantrums or hitting a sibling or whatever the issue was at that point.

Let’s say someone cuts you off in traffic; you’re angry. Your feeling of anger doesn’t mean you’re allowed to stalk the other driver and ram his bumper. But you’ll probably at least mutter, “Jerk!”

Maybe he is a jerk. Maybe he’s rushing to someone’s deathbed.

There’s simply a big difference between feeling something and it being labeled as fact.





Friday Intern Post – Rachel Gorin

I love to read. I remember the first time I actually, really, considered myself to be able to read. I was sitting on the couch and my mom and brother were sitting on the floor – she was helping both of us, going back and forth, and we each had a book in our hands. I remember the feeling I had, the happiness and pride that I felt from my belly all the way to my face – I must have had the biggest smile. And I can’t remember ever not liking to read (for all of you grammar sticklers, I know I shouldn’t be using a double negative like that, but I can’t think of a better way to say it). Really. There are very few books I have neglected to finish. There have been many days throughout the summers of my childhood that I spent curled up with a book. I remember the summer after third grade, I counted how many books I read – it was something like 30 or 40. And I would bring a book to school. I would read every free second I had (although sometimes I ended up talking to a friend). I would stay up at night reading if I was in the middle of a book I just couldn’t put down. I had to make myself go to sleep.

This continued until the middle or later years of high school. I still loved to read and loved books in general. My English classes were still consistently my favorite classes. But I struggled with getting back into reading for fun. Unless there was a new book that had just come out from one of my favorite authors, it took a while for me to be able to bring myself to pick up a book, just as an activity for leisure time. As I’ve moved into college, it’s become even harder. Why?  Why would a book lover like me have such a hard time reading for fun?

School. That’s why. I would get so burnt out from reading for school. It didn’t matter if they were good textbooks, bad textbooks, good classes, bad classes, whatever. I just got so sick of reading. I can’t even really explain it. I still liked reading for my English classes. That was fun homework, to me. I even took an English class over the summer one time, and I absolutely loved it. That was probably one of the most interesting English classes I’ve ever taken, and I wanted to take it, because it was something I liked to do, and a school credit that could go towards whatever I decided on doing as far as declaring a major or deciding on a career, whenever or whatever that might be. But spending hours on end pouring over whatever reading I had for my classes was exhausting. I have piles of books sitting in my room that I want to read but haven’t. Because I want to read them – I got them for a reason, after all. I just don’t.

School should not be like that. School should be a good learning experience. School should not make something that is usually enjoyable somehow not enjoyable anymore. There are many reasons I think these things are the way they are – that school sometimes takes away the fun in things, or that so many people get burnt out from school, or that school is not always a good learning experience – reasons that I’m not going to describe in detail right now. And although I have trouble getting back into reading for fun, I still consider myself to like reading. When people ask, or when I have to fill out things that want a list of hobbies or a list of likes, I say that I love to read. That’s because I still do. Once I manage to pick up a book, and it’s good, and I get into it, then I remember why I loved reading so much and I fall in love with it all over again.

There are many ways I can take these thoughts. I can talk about why or how schools and the whole schooling system should change. I can talk about how people change over time and how things people used to like, they just don’t like the same way anymore, if at all. I can talk about my life experiences, and how I’ve changed personally, and how this affects my activities, thoughts, and feelings. But I’m going to go another direction.

I want to say that people should keep doing what they love. All of you, reading this – keep it up!  There is a reason you loved whatever it is once, and you might love it again. You might just need an extra push. But I say treasure the things that make you happy, the little moments and little things that bring a smile to your face or laughter to your lips. And if those things don’t do that for you anymore, find something that will.

Some people, if they start off liking to read, they might always like to read. Or people who don’t like to read will never like to read. I say – to express the sentiment of something I saw the other day – that, if you don’t like reading, then you’re not doing it right. So true. If you’re interested in something, I promise you, there is a book about it. And if there’s a book about it, no matter how much you might hate to read, you will find it interesting, and it will be worth the trouble.

I go through phases with reading. And I might have trouble picking up a book because of school. But I will always love it, no matter what. There are so many reasons why I love it. I could not possibly lose all of those reasons. School won’t trump that. And I recommend and encourage everyone to read. There are so many incredible benefits. There aren’t too many things by which I’d rather be surrounded than books. I hope and wish that everyone will find something to read that will make them smile or laugh, that will give them one of those moments.

The purpose of this isn’t to complain about school or to say that reading is horrible. It’s to say that I miss it so terribly much. I long for the time that it was this super easy and fun thing for me. This is to encourage people to continue reading, or to find something that’s fun to read, or even just to find something that brings people those moments that reading brought – and sometimes still, although less often – brings to me.