Everyone wants to be someone else

I remember watching an interview with a young woman on TV, I don’t remember her name, but she was an athlete in the para olympics.  She was missing a leg and ran with a prosthetic.  She didn’t dwell on her misfortune; she said in the interview, “I like who I am.” And I thought, “that’s weird.” Not because it’s weird that someone without a leg could feel that way, but because it was weird to me that anyone could feel that way.

It should be weird to a lot of people.  Because everyone wants to be something different,  If you’ve got straight hair, you want it to be curly, if you have curly, you want it to be straight.  People think they’re fat when they aren’t, they want a different shape to their bodies, they want to be creative, more focused, smarter, prettier, more outgoing.  Sometimes they want to be dumber (and happier).  It’s not usually as extreme as the guy who had plastic surgery to look like a lion, or even those who want to be a different gender, but it is common to be unhappy with who you are.

Dennis Avner

Dennis Avner

Whoopi Goldberg (a black woman who chose a Jewish stage name) had a routine in which she portrayed a young black girl who puts a shirt on her head and said, “this is my long luxurious blond hair.”  The routine continues with the girls mother saying “you can sit in a vat of clorox all day and all you ever going to be is black,” which Whoopi then tells us is true, cause she tried it and got burned.

I thought it was weird to like yourself, probably because that might have been one of the first times it dawned on me that it could be that way. There was a time when I wanted to be an actor because I loved pretending to be someone else.  I am often frustrated when I travel, because I want to do more than visit the sites, I want to live there, to know what it is like to be one of the locals.  I don’t even like the pictures of us, my family, that my wife puts up in our house because I want to forget who I am and how I’m defined by others.  Maybe I should have been an actor, but I couldn’t have gotten roles playing a black man, or a woman, because they would give those to black men or women.  So where is the outlet for people who want to be that different?

Does anyone really know why a guy wants to be a girl?  Or vice versa?  We accept it.  We don’t really know where it comes from, but we accept it (at least some of us do).

Kaitlyn Jenner has been in the news lately.  She takes to the publicity more than, say, Lana Wachowski ever did but this isn’t new anymore.  And now there’s Rachel Dolezal who was masquerading as black. I know people who are so accepting of the transgender, and think Rachel Dolezal has a serious mental illness. But it seems to me that transracial, so to speak, is less extreme than transgender, because race really is a construct, especially in the US where most black people are actually mixed, and some are more white than black, but by the American definition, unless you can and choose to pass, then you’re considered black. You are segregated by custom if not law, into a group, which becomes and then maintains a distinct culture. But we are all human. The genetics that are different between black and white are primarily limited to superficial things like skin color.  To say different is to align yourself with those who justified their racism with the notion that blacks were not even human.

If there is a difference between black and white it is because society segregates people based on the way they look.  The way society treates people who have any African heritage, whether it is that they get punished for crimes that whites don’t, denied the vote, or even killed without consequence, nurtures a common experience and a bond not unlike the bond of people that go to war together.

That’s not based on genes but on what we can see. The American Dream, as Malcolm X suggested, can be an American Nightmare just because you’re perceived as part of the black race.

Why would anyone choose that?

I’ve seen it written that Rachel Dolezol’s experience belittles the struggles that black people have to endure. I want to know how? Does it belittle black people to say that black is beautiful? Does not this say to young black girls that they are worth something, that they have something that at least one white person wants? If you are black and proud of it, wouldn’t you feel lucky, not because you can get the shit kicked out of you by the police for no reason, but at least to be born as something you can be proud of.  And can’t you feel sorry for someone who wants to be you but isn’t?

By abdicating her throne, so to speak, by giving up her white privilege to live 24-7 masquerading among the people she loves, is not an affront. And it does not detract from the cause of Justice, especially when she is working for the cause in the NAACP. And if the publicity distracts from more important stories, that isn’t Ms. Dolezal’s fault.

4 thoughts on “Everyone wants to be someone else

  1. You know, I don’t know if this is a passing fad, but I’ve started changing the way I eat, noticing that certain foods are hard for me to handle and if I avoid them, I feel physically better. And then when I feel physically better, I like who I am more. it has made me start to wonder whether this lifelong struggle with self that I’ve had, what I sometimes refer to as chronic minor depression, and also the feeling that I always make the wrong decisions, like I don’t know myself, like I don’t know what will make me happy (forgetting what it feels like), is actually just a food intolerance. Since I have, on occasion, felt good lately, I wonder whether this was always the case. It gives me hope for liking myself in the future. If can just stay off the sweets, and the grains (corn, seeds, nuts, wheat, potatoes, bread pasta),dairy, fermented foods, caffeine, gmo, msg…. what’s left? Yeah, sometimes if seems like I feel better if I just don’t eat. Mostly it’s a matter of degree, but I do notice that if I eat less, at least of certain foods – I’m good with meat, and with complex carbs like non-starchy veggies – then I feel better, and suddenly I like myself. I think it may have to do with my mixed heritage. My digestive system might have inherited genetics from the Highlands of Scotland, for example, and yet I grew up eating a lot of food from other aspects of my heritage, bagels, say, and in NY other people’s heritages. And some of that stuff is hard for me to digest, and I never made the connection. Just a thought.

    Liked by 1 person

    • One of my friends was just diagnosed with a low-level anxiety disorder…it’s interesting because it validated what she had been feeling all her life, without being able to put her finger on it. Just a feeling that she was “off”, and not really functioning at her optimal level.
      It’s different for everyone of course. I do think that I feel worse when I eat “bad” food (empty carbs and sweets); that’s something I’ve been conscious of for the last couple of years or so. Some of it could be guilt. Or the fact that I often use food as a soother…


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