Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The One Where Some People Don't Have To Choose #sol15

Every Tuesday, I participate in the Slice of Life challenge at Two Writing Teachers. Every March, the Slice of Life Challenge is a month-long experience where Slicers post every single day for the entire month. I'm joining in on the monthly challenge this year! For more information on what a Slice of Life post is about, you can go here.

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A few years ago we were at a surprise birthday party for a friend. It was a landmark birthday and we don't see this friend often enough so we were excited to celebrate with him. He's one of those friends that we met in a weird, isolated context and so we don't really know his friends well other than seeing them at his wedding and other parties. Over the years, we have gotten to know one couple who is friends with this friend and it seems like we usually end up talking to them at parties.

So we're at this party and I have no idea how but somehow I ended up talking about having to fill out stupid bubbles and claim that I'm white (non-Hispanic) or Hispanic and how much it has always driven me crazy that I can't pick more than one.

This friend of our friend didn't get what I was talking about. 

He shrugged and said, like it was no big deal, just pick one.

I tried to help him see how it might feel 

to sit down and take a standardized test like the SAT or the ACT 
which is likely going to make a huge impact on the college you get into

to bubble in all those teeny little bubbles one at a time, row by row,
which you have to make sure to fill in dark enough but within the lines just so

to be forced to pick the one of parent you want to identify with this time
which means that you don't get to recognize how uniquely, multi-faceted, and whole you are. 

He didn't get it.

Again, he tried to explain how I should shrug it off and pick one.

Deep breath.

I know, but...

I painted him a picture:
You arrive at daycare to pick up your two sons.
You love them both equally.
They are both yours, they come from you, they are part of who you are.
But today you only get to take one home.
Which one do you want?

You only get one. 
Tomorrow you can pick the other to take home if you want.
What do you mean you want them both?
Nope. Doesn't work that way.
Which one do you want?

I'm not sure if I opened his eyes or not, if he was willing to see it from my perspective. 
But I tried.

Similar to how I've lived my life and only recently started to think about how being part white and part Hispanic means I have unique experiences that might be different from others, this interaction was an eye-opener for me. He lives his life and fills in bubbles and it doesn't phase him. 

It doesn't make 
pause in frustration
set him on edge
make him have to regroup and focus on what comes next

He just fills in the bubble and moves along his merry way.

In reflecting and learning about myself, I'm seeing how it's possible for others to not think twice until someone shows them how their experience might be different. 

Ever have a moment when something seems so simple, so blatantly clear but you didn't put two and two together, it just didn't click with you? 

I think that's how we often are when trying to see others' stories through our lens. Duh, we have to look through a different lens. But how might we help others see through our lens? For me, this is just another reason why I'm trying to tell my story. Come look through my lens. Let me show you. 

To read my previous Slice of Life posts, click on any link below:

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