I'm calling it my "Aha!" moment a la Oprah, but you can also call it my big "D'uh" moment.
I've written about how I've recently gone through an unusually difficult period for me. Depression (check), doubt (check), despair (check). Lots and lots of people struggle with the exact same feelings, yet, like sex and sexuality, we aren't supposed to talk about it. Normally I am a pretty resilient person, but it was this particular trifecta of emotions that set me up for a perfect shit storm.
I was raised in a very proper way, but I have always had a duality to me that has been hard for me to reconcile. My father is a very quite, well mannered, highly intelligent American born Japanese American doctor. My late mother was a gregarious person who was also highly intelligent (she had a photographic memory), yet she was a bit unruly and inappropriate.
Basically when I was growing up I was was guided by principles that were not always congruent. My father believed that children should be seen and not heard, and that you should not rock the boat. This totally made sense to me once I was old enough to find out that my dad and his entire family was interned during the war. On the other hand, there was my mother who believed that you should always stand up for yourself.
One part of me has always longed to fit in, be accepted, and be liked. Another part of me has always been unruly and sometimes I barely care what or how people think about me. In other words, my usual interactions with people include a lot of me telling them or thinking they can "suck it". I now see that this pattern has weaved in and out of my adult life.
I totally admit that it is fucked up for me to occasionally get caught up on being liked. Why? I have never truly enjoyed the company of people who are universally liked. I never got the the sense that well liked people were authentic because they were trying too dang hard to keep up the status quo. But worse, I often said to myself "...god damn, can this person really be that great? And if so, they certainly don't need me to like them or be their friend so, guess what fucker, I won't."
As a sexuality educator I have, at times, felt extreme pressure to fit in with other people who do what I do. This includes using terminology that is inclusive to the point of being exclusive. When I first became a sex educator I had the most amazing feeling of belonging somewhere. My personality and dirty mouth has always been a challenge for me when I worked my previous jobs. I always felt like people only got to see the outer shell (i.e. appropriate) of who I am. Let me put it this way, the concept of "sugar coating" my words is beyond the grasp of my understanding. I know no other way to be besides blunt. That's why initially working in the field of sexuality felt like freedom to me.
My feelings are that working in the sexuality field comes with some unwritten "standards and practices". And for too long I have allowed myself to get stuck on the political part of my job. I'm guessing that is a direct result of me being brought up to act appropriately. But what I really love about myself is that I am utterly not appropriate.
My "Aha!" moment was this--people began to respond favorably to me when I was being my most authentic self. Not a proper, total politically correct version of myself. In fact, the response was not only immediate but the numbers alone were staggering.
I am a wonderful, flawed, yet perfect combination of many things. I no longer feel like I have to be one or the other. I am equally professional and unruly. I am both compassionate and ball busting. I am feminine yet think more like a man. I want to be liked but would prefer to be respected. And one of the most powerful realizations for me has been my best friends telling me matter-of-factly that they have never fit in anywhere either. Incidentially, I happen to have some of the most amaze-balls, intelligent, hilarious, and all around kick ass friends on the planet.
Figuring out who you are can be a life long journey. I feel like I have always known who I am deep down, but was never secure enough to be myself full time. In fact writing this particular post feels a little too personal and too honest. But if you think about it, it is 100% Catherine.
p.s. If you don't like it, then suck it!