This Girl I Am

Originally posted on November 11, 2016 on my old blog.

Thanks to Sophie, my friend, for this photo of my pink-hair stage. 

Thanks to Sophie, my friend, for this photo of my pink-hair stage. 

Writing about my sexuality is weird. It does not feel uncomfortable, rather, it feels unexpected. I’ve never felt the need- a deep urgency- to define my sexuality or to categorize it neatly, into an easily readable, concrete box. I just am, and my heart will be what it is; I will love whoever it is that I love. My sexuality exists not in a vacuum isolated from my whole identity, certainly, but it also is not exactly a defining attribute of mine. It says nothing about my brain or my ambitions or anything, it just says, this is who I am, this is who I’ll love, and nothing about this makes me feel strange or inhuman.

There is no closet door I have been attempting to shove open. I talk about my sexuality with anyone who brings it up in conversation. I’ve written a multitude of personal essays and pieces for school which include my sexuality somewhere in there. I do not feel any desire to stand up and “come out”- to, with a shaky fist, hold a cooking pan up to the limitless, vast world and say, “I ain’t straight!” Although that would be a lot of fun, I can’t say I’ve really considered it.

So, I’m pansexual. Contrary to the belief of so many, I am not sexually attracted to pans. Pansexuality is simply just falling in love with whomever one falls in love with, regardless of gender. Additionally, since gender is, to me, a more arbitrary label we have decided to create in this globe of ours, and since we now have to deal with that, pansexuality allows me to reject the ideas of the binary and concrete. I don’t feel binary or concrete- so this label works for me. It is a fluid label for me, because I am complicated and utterly confused by it daily, yet I also know that I feel it best describes how I feel about the world and my place in relationships.

Rowan Blanchard, an activist hero of mine, inspired me to write this piece. She wrote a startlingly resonant piece for Rookie nearly boiling over with unadorned, teenage honesty. I have read that piece again and again, and my heart has ached with the swellings of connection to her feelings. I feel so quieted and disconnected from the person I present myself to be. This brick wall constrains my effusions and deter my truth, and I no longer wish for it to stand up like a hulking fence around my identity.

I, like Rowan, find myself apologizing for my existence. I engage in an endless conflict with myself, one that never seems to truly dissipate, no matter my persistence. I feel as if I have to earn my place in this world. I feel that I am not entitled to existence. That I must earn my right to exist. And if I feel that I am not living up to these high, self-constructed “standards” of living, I must apologize for it.

Since childhood, one learns the ways in which they are supposed to behave and, since we are, at such a young age, so unwillingly susceptible to these ideals, we thus instill them into ourselves. We feel as if we are somehow innately wrong if we don’t. This is not okay. I want to live in a world where a child is born and they grow up however the hell they want to. A world where a human is a human, not subjected immediately to the inflexible, binary social constructs of gender. Gender is so, so, incredibly complicated and we have tried to simplify it down by splitting it into two, when, in fact, it is a different story for every single person. By splitting things into twos, we drown out so many valuable voices. So many of us go unheard and unasked.

Personally, I’ve always been perplexed by sexuality. It’s seemed an aspect of identity so personal, so complicated, and yet in ways so unconnected to who you are as a human being. The many harmful stereotypes surrounding different well-known sexualities have always seemed ridiculous to me. Just as identifying as a certain gender does not, in any way, mean you have certain intrinsic qualities, being of a certain sexuality also does not, to me, determine any of your innate characteristics. I’ve always been hesitant to assimilate myself with the label “straight”. I do not wish to be defined by a word any longer. In middle school, I’d uncomfortably, but also, obliviously, contort my definition of my sexuality to something easy, societally acceptable, and what I considered “the norm”. This was poor judgment, and quite ridiculous, I feel now. But I felt the intense, underlying homophobia, or rather, phobia of any sexuality other than strictly heterosexual, pervade through even the most mundane of occasions. And even through the most seemingly “progressive” of places. My school is one that prides itself for its tolerance, diversity, and progressive, highly liberal nature. I am privileged to have the capability and means to attend such a school, and this, I am acutely aware of, however, I also recognize that we are certainly, by no means, 100% accepting.

There is still the common desire to fit ourselves into the easy labels. So many of us are too confused and too nervous of judgment and fear to identify as something other than straight or gay. Yet now we see a world that is starting to reject and dismantle outdated paradigms of sexuality and gender. The invalidation is dissipating a bit- it is still there, and it hurts- but it is slowly spreading apart, and we can see the holes in its finite body.

Here is the thing that I need to say, and, thanks to Rowan, I feel that I truly am freed to express the words that have been trapped inside of me for so long: sexuality is not always the black and white. It is not always an immediate, innate knowing, or something that is defined from birth. I’ve questioned what I identify as more times than I can count, but I have always felt strange about it, always invalidated the many discordant feelings I’d had. I’d always been attracted to boys- I couldn’t really be questioning thatit’s probably just a phase, it has to be, right?

I understand why many find the idea of sexual fluidity uncomfortable. It can most definitely be used as a means of discrediting anyone who comes out as LGBTQ+, can be used as an excuse for someone’s sexuality, as in, a parent saying, it’s just a phase, you’re just experimenting, etc. I also understand how important labels have been, historically, to the LGBTQ+ movement as something that immediately connects and supports people of sexualities other than heterosexual. I understand and wholeheartedly support this. The LGBTQ+ community is a powerful and, of course, highly oppressed group of humans, and I am unbelievably grateful that there exists such strength stemming from this acronym. But I also wish not to forget about, or marginalize, those of us who feel we fit more into the + side of things. After all, LGBTQ+ is meant to encompass not solely the LGBTQ, but rather to provide an inclusive umbrella term meant to create a community for those who identify as any sexuality, on the vast, complex spectrum, other than rigidly heterosexual.

I know that, as definite and as innate sexuality can feel to many, it is also something vastly, confusing. As a sixteen year old girl, I can easily attest to the immense pressure blatant in society to label yourself immediately; to define your sexuality instantly, as if, by becoming a teenager, you somehow magically, instantaneously, know exactly and precisely Who You Are. This is not to say that those who know their sexuality are any less right or valid in their self-knowledge. I am trying to express is that we are all valid in however we identify, and that our identities can and often do change. That does not make them any less valid.

I am pansexual, but I use it interchangeably with the word “queer”; meaning my sexuality is simply that I love whomever I love, and that gender is irrelevant to that love.

Existing as an adolescent often sucks. The extraordinary amount of suckiness in adolescence does not need to be augmented by condescending adults correcting our identities and demanding that they need us to place labels upon ourselves in order to understand us. We certainly do not need said adults to criticize how we choose to grow up. An enormous, and strange, aspect of growing up, to me, is accepting how many versions of yourself there are. To accept that you are not a definite, rigid thing, and that you can allow yourself to be something fluid– it is a simultaneously terrifying and liberating thing. You are allowed to be many different things, and many different people. You are allowed to become something unexpected. You are allowed to be yourself, but Yourself is not always going to be what it once was. I forget this, a lot. I forget of fluidity, of the utmost, undeniable but so harshly repressed truth of being a human being: you are free. Inherently. Your mind is a free thing and it is so, so unique, and I do not say this lightly. I do not say that you are unique in order to follow any outdated cliches. I say this to truly express the absolute isolation of humanhood. It is a disconcerting thing, to become aware of how truly singular  you are, how you are and always will be the only you that will ever exist.

I want to defend those who feel as if they’ve had to doubt the validity of their sexuality- whatever that may be- because they cannot wholeheartedly fit into one concrete label. And, of course, I would also like to defend those who do fit into one concrete label yet feel as if they must still apologize and justify their sexuality. I do not believe that sexuality requires justification. Neither does gender. My life is teeming with a reluctance to validate what is considered unacceptable or inconvenient. I listen to people in my school talk about gender identities as punchlines, as mere superfluous, absurd things people make up to “get attention.” I hear these words echoing a deep lack of empathy and an underlying fear of complexity. To solely validate what is easy for you is to disregard that you are not the sole human in existence.

I paint myself with soft-spoken protests when I am told I am too much. I hear people make fun of feminism and even of sexual assault statistics; boys explaining to me that rape culture does not exist, how my body works, as if I am not a woman existing in the world with a body and mind. I hear all of these crackling, headache noises, and I wish I could turn it off sometimes. I’ve felt it so much lately that I felt the need to write this piece. I felt a need to remember that I am a person who is no less than any other simply because my identity is a little less mainstream or well-understood. To believe in self-reliance, in self-fulfillment, is key. To deny yourself the entitlement of existence will only burn your brain with fear and doubt.

So I am trying to feel comfortable being an undefinable thing, floating about this strange mass of matter and space and people and chemicals and things. I live in fluidity and undefinability. This hurts sometimes. It alienates me a lot. It is me, though. And that is enough.

Flowers: a Lyric Essay

Originally posted in early 2016.

“I have already lost touch with a couple of people I used to be.”

If thoughts could be collected and pressed, preserved, like flowers; if memories faded to soft sepia over the years; if the self could be constructed like a collage. If I could be the girl I wished to be. If I could be the girl I believe I am. If my feminism did not deter those who misunderstood my passion for pointed spite. If the walls of adolescence did not pertain to me, those four, cracked, spineless walls, housing thousands of unread novels and dogeared poetry anthologies, if I could escape the walls into limitless brilliance. If things could stop. If time could stop, for even the slightest moment. If I could stop watching my reflection change and instead savor it remaining the same.

I’ve made things difficult for myself, unnecessarily. I’ve unnerved those around me and lost those who I never meant to lose. My idea of self no longer feels safe or stable or even tangible. In being sixteen, I’ve seemed to forget that I’m allowed to be a feeling, hurting human being with an erratic heartbeat. Something different has happened in the past few months. The cage cracked open. The pencil split in half. Everything, subtly, quietly, and almost unnoticeably at first, changed.


“Flowers are restful to look at. They have neither emotions nor conflicts.”

I collect daisies in translucent containers and, with the stagnant throbbing of airless time,watch white fade to pale cream, watch yellow turn to the color of daffodils. Life continues on.

A world full of conformists, of zombies, of exhausted, unyielding hopelessness, of tired eyes and red lines dotting warm cellulite thighs. Each body different but each heartache perpetual. There is no way out of this. The world will not end on our account. We will not be okay, we will not be leaders, we will not change the world, because we are too tired and too worn out to get through the day, to get out of our empty beds, to feel our feet graze the carpet.

Each day is the same. Each body limply forcing itself out of the quiet haven of thin sheets and curled up blankets. The sky silent and dark, 6:30 AM, each brain disintegrating day by day into the peripheral abyss, the one that hangs outside of our routines, outside of our forcing ourselves to get through the days. It feels like nothing anymore.

This, I wrote halfway through sophomore year, at the time when blunt-force self-contempt and longing shoved me into a closet, into a wall, into relentless introspection. There exists a point in adolescent existence that this wall closes in, the city you have spent your entire life in becomes a prison, and suddenly, you perceive yourself as a detriment to happiness.

But. As Sylvia Plath wrote in her journal, “Your room isn’t the prison. You are.” Los Angeles harbors traffic, materialism, idle belief in “colorblindedness”, copious conformists, and it is hell. Los Angeles is also home to Joan Didion, to Charles Bukowski, to me. Los Angeles is not what is holding me hostage, I am.

Consciousness is not definable, nor should it ever be. There exists little coherence in the concept, and being a teenage human, with validity issues and self-doubt and endless fluidity, the only fight to wage is one against solipsistic, trembling loneliness. In this world, in this universe, the striving and the struggling are synonymous. And life hurts, bends, contorts all reason and authenticity.

If your body is female, it belongs to a set of unconscious white, disillusioned men, your uterus a public playground of scrutiny. If you do not identify as a rigidly binary person, in sexuality, in gender, in etc, etc, life shoves itself down your throat and choking is considered part of the deal. Race, a social construct, dictates worth of human life. Loss after loss. Bruise after bruise. If you are really you, you owe the world something. It is not fair. It is not right, but it is the way it is. If you are you, life also blooms extraordinary colors and grows to unimaginable lengths, while you grow into a girl, a person, a beautiful, collage of facets and ideas and thoughts. Flowers grow, people change, shift, die, evolve, blossom.

The average human brain has around 86bn neurons. Each neuron is able to carry a memory. If you divided the brain into its four lobes, frontal, temporal, parietal, and occipital, and attempted to map out the particular functions specific to each lobe, still, you’d be left with questions and a heaping quagmire of confuddled answers.

One question neuroscientists have yet to answer about the brain is this: is this all we are? Four parts of a whole and a web of billions of cells; grey matter and white, the amygdala and hippocampus, the corpus callosum connecting everything to one another? The brain weighs just three pounds and is more mysterious than the entire universe. It controlsall functions of the human body necessary to live. This piece of matter holds everything we are and ever will be, inside of it.

After I am dead and my organs, burnt or donated, turn to unfamiliar, rotted pieces of matter; impersonal, inhuman, unimportant and unliving, what will happen to my brain? If I could ask the universe any one thing, I would inquire of the future whereabouts of the colors, of the sensory displacements, of the experiences and dreams and thoughts and the tiresome, beautiful, dissonant construction of myself.

But there is no answer, nor will there ever be, and this is what I am learning to be okay with. I am okay with not understanding why flowers die, and I can press their perforated petals, but I will not piece what is gone back together.

A seaside rambling

This was originally published on July 17, 2016 on my old blog.

from our house’s view in suburban portland, maine

from our house’s view in suburban portland, maine

I found this stashed along an erratic array of writings from my summer; bits and pieces scattered, thoughts and jumbled feelings. I didn’t really finish a lot this summer. I wrote. I wrote everyday, yet the words often passionately quickened at the outset, only to trail into weak fragments of feelings and misshapen, underdeveloped stories thick with angsty cliches. I decided to stop forcibly slugging out word after word and instead immersed myself in literature, in others’ words to appease my impatience with my own.

I know that the universal adage of the classic writers is that one should write everyday, even if it aches, even if it hurts an unspeakable, messy, terrible amount, yet I somewhat disagree. I think there is something to be said about immersion, in books, in novels and nonfiction. It means something to lose your own identity, not only as a writer but as a person, and to recreate the universe in stories that do not belong to you, so that you can better recreate your own if it is a tired one.

I read many books and watched many films and listened to so much music; I absorbed and absorbed without ceasing to be indulgent in my over-consumption. I spent days in my bedroom simply swallowing words and sounds whole. Here is one such fragment of my incessant ramblings. It is one of many buried and burrowed into notebooks scattered like breadcrumbs around my bedroom, and half-completed Google Docs in my Writing folder. I spent a bit of time in Maine this summer, and this is a result of the things I noticed there:

There is a lot the ocean can say, and a lot it cannot.

Monday afternoon, to Peaks Island just seventeen minutes or so off of Portland, Maine, the sunlight white and glaringly forceful, watching the tendrils of waves curl up and roar underneath the tired motor of the beat ferry, sitting in a cracked, plastic firetruck-red seat. Barely grown thirteen year olds, gangly and pale-eyed, caress their iPhones with an intimacy so expressively theirs I feel as if I should look away. I hear them chattering about the new Pidgeys and Pikachus they found, and look away from a boy with curly strands of auburn hair piled around his freckled flesh, his eyes tearing into me with the sort of relentless, unblemished scrutiny only thirteen year olds have the simultaneous confidence and insecurity to pull off. I don’t bother looking back.

The island is small and unremarkably beautiful. It looks like every other New England island, speckled with ever-flowing greenery, pale and quiet, with antique concrete shops and offroad wilderness; the world green and thick with fogginess. It is isolated. I like that about it, its isolation. An island like this appears as its own soft-spoken, underwhelming planet, yet a closer look touches into unseen beauty, and delicate wild things all over the place. The water and the wind and the humid cold. It speaks like a quiet child afraid of itself.

Biting roughly into the rubbery chew of fried clams, my head about to explode. Too many sounds colliding into one another ecstatically back and forth back and forth until the world implodes inside of my head. I cannot handle so much at once. It is my overly-sensitive nature, as psychologists often describe this inability to handle chaos. The taste of undercarbonated coke against my throat does little to soothe grine of anxiety building slowly in my belly. Look at this girl, with her fumbling hands trying to hold onto a slippery thing.

I do not like to look like I am asleep all the time, but I do, because I am. I am fast asleep while the world thrums and continues on around me.

Seaside, I can think. I am clear and awake, underneath halfhearted copper eye shadow and a scruffy Cape Cod cap, with dirty hair unbrushed and enmeshed with saltwater, while the sun settles into the horizon. I can think while I sit upon the rocks overlooking the shallows, where the water is dark and murky and the seashells clump in heaping constellations of the ocean’s bones. An energetic, if concealed, ecosystem quietly taking its part in the universe below my dipped toes. I like to look at the small crabs and sea snails and imagine myself as small as the creatures crawling among the sand, cohabiting this watery wild. I can’t really imagine it, but I try.

This ocean is different from my ocean- the Pacific. There, in Los Angeles, tourists flock longingly to uninspiring beaches peppered with cheap thrills and litter and I hate it. I loathe the glare of brazen sun on the waves while I stand uncomfortably in the dusty, grey water bleeding with human contamination.

I do not like the beach. But I like Maine. I like the way the water tells me things in a way no other aspect of nature can. I like the sheer, unobstructed shaft of isolation, of greens and blues and colors rather than noise and lights. I like gripping onto a sticky steering wheel on Peaks Island, the golf cart squeaking with age, and pretending to be free. Nature does not ask you questions nor, more importantly, does it ask the universe questions. It just is, and it does not comprehend why, but it does not have any desire to comprehend such things. Such knowledge will not uncover happiness.

Such knowledge is not found anywhere.