How do you categorize yourself?
Are you inclined to pick a label for yourself based more on what you think or feel? Or is it about your relationship to others? Or is it what you look like?
I have been lucky. I have never questioned my faith or its practices, or felt embarrassment of where my story began, long before me.
I’m a girl. That means I talk like one, but refuse to fall into up-speak or other rhythmic patterns during speeches. That means I dress like one.
[Description: image of Lizzie McGuire, in front of her closet, saying I have absolutely nothing to wear]
That means I run like one.
I was born to Muslim parents, born to Pakistani parents (one of whom has lived through the Partition and recognition of Bangladesh as another country), living in my nation’s capital, living with a friend whose background radically differs from my own, who listens to Jon Stewart and I am in love with someone born to a Swedish parent and American parent. I have felt extreme love from this background, and this story.
But I have also felt extreme hurt. I have had people look through my family’s history without my consent. I have met people who do not know my faith, and those who do not want to understand my faith. In these moments, the faith I was born into has been tested in new ways.
In these moments, my categorizations seem to do so little. They are internal, invisible borders, erected to make sense of my relation to the world around me. They do not feel any different from anyone else’s story.
What do you do when your identity is not your own anymore?