Life experience has taught me, time and again, that everyone leaves eventually. I had to learn, really young, to be my own best friend and rely, as much as possible, on myself and no one else. I was thirty years old, long before ever turning thirty. It was a blessing and a curse. Early maturity prepares you for real life, but it also provides you with an untouchable level of wisdom.
It prepared me for hardship, heartbreak, heartache, and failures other people have tried to pull me into, along with harsh lessons where I got hurt, because the other person involved was the one learning the lesson, and I was collateral damage. I am still here, doing what I can to turn the corner and find out where I belong.
One of my takeaways from today (and the past few years, on a whole), is listening to how other people sound when they don’t realize how much privilege they have. It blows my mind, really, and it makes me realize that nothing was ever handed to me. I’ve actually caught myself wondering what is wrong with them and how they can justify such inappropriate behavior. I have to stop muttering, “I’m so sick of white people.”, partly because I can pass as 100% white.
I remember when an Asian friend questioned the validity of my Asian ancestry. “You look Italian, not Asian.” she said, as if this was suddenly a fact of my lineage. It’s not the first time I’ve heard that I “look Italian”, but I found it especially disrespectful when she said it. I blew it off, but that moment on a Boston sidewalk hurt me. The friendship is in a holding pattern for many reasons, but I can’t get that comment out of my head three plus years later. 😦
I have never been “enough” for anyone, be it from a religious standpoint, a health standpoint, or an ancestry standpoint. The above quote reminds me of every backhanded, rude, disrespectful, and/or vicious comment I’ve endured.
I can count on my fingers and toes (a few dozen times) based on how many times someone has come up to me randomly and started to speak to me in another language, usually Spanish. Rapid-fire Spanish, which is a totally different thing for me. It takes me a minute or so to comprehend the language change and reply. Each time, if I didn’t reply immediately, they would walk away with this comment, “Ella es solo otra estúpida chica blanca.” They would always say, “She’s just another stupid white girl.” Or I’d be “Just another white bitch.” The first one is low on the scale of insults, and I always ignore it because I’m not going to chase after someone on a city street, but the second comment always makes me feel dirty, and angry.
Even if I don’t speak your native tongue, I will still do whatever I can to help you get to where you need to go. I will still translate directions for you and be kind. So many people should consider this option before blowing anyone off and saying something rude. I’m honest if I have no idea where something is, but really, it takes a few seconds to check on your phone. Kindness has never killed me.
When I got sick, everyone scattered. I’ll never forget it. Just because I don’t think about it every single day pf my life doesn’t mean it hasn’t made me hyperaware of new people and their intentions. Because I spoke the truth when I said that everyone leaves eventually. It’s an unfortunate fact. Everyone leaves. Including you.