In addition to the actual assignment (that not everyone will be able to see just yet), we have to write about what it was like to write it. This is what it looks like when my “metacogs” start turning.
Choosing a time when I experienced a life-shaping struggle was difficult. There I was, a writer with nothing to write about and a stubbornness that refused to choose. It reminded me of all the other occasions when I couldn’t decide. Why could I never decide?
Instead I began to tackle one of the words that was on my Passions assignment, hybrid. To be honest, I needed more words to fill the page and hybrid was just a word on the surface of my thoughts when I think about my identity. But the subconscious works in funny ways. When I presented that assignment to the class, hybrid required some elaboration. Why hybrid?
After writing the paper, I felt relief more than anything else. I had finally articulated my thoughts and feelings on the two questions that I always start answering with a sigh. “What’s your background? What’s your major?” This paper is the complete answer I wish I could tell people! Alas, few have the time for that, and these questions are usually for small talk, starting points for what they really want to talk about. Other takeaways include some fun facts I came across while researching my cultural and ancestral roots.
As for how I view identity now that I’ve written this, I’m not sure my perception of it has changed dramatically. Certainly, I can better embrace who I am in relation to the rest of our dominant culture. I had always wanted to fit in and belong, as many of us have experienced, but it almost seems childish now. Around 16 or 17, “fitting in” became equated with conforming — “conforming” and all its negative connotations. Of course, I still care about what people think of me, but I am free from the belief that I have to wear one of culture’s clearly defined labels.
Another thought I had about this paper was that I’m certainly making myself look like I think I’m the most special thing on the planet. Here’s the disclaimer: the truth is, we’re all “hybrids” in some way. At the very least, are we not both our mother and father and yet neither? The point is seeing past the labels, or the lack thereof. Why put my identity in something as fragile as my relationships, my interactions, my career, my history or my future anymore?