Yes that is most certainly one of my obsessions. I keep going around and around it many times, if I could be bothered to find them I could link so many different posts where I’ve dissected this subject over and over again.
The point I’m at now is: definitions and labels are only a problem for me as far as I let them be. I have made them my problem. People have caused me problems because of them and that I couldn’t help, and I wasn’t always old enough or experienced enough to have a clue as to how to respond to that, but now I am older and although not much wiser I can decide how much of a problem they are to me.
I had a dream a while back, where my daughter and I got stranded in an extremely foreign-looking Russia. The Embassy we asked for and were directed to was, amazingly, just on the other side of the road, and it was an Italian embassy. Of course. I may not feel very Italian, Italians may have not been very nice to me mostly, however, I have an Italian passport and they are the ones forced to help me should I get stranded somewhere.
In that, I am Italian.
I am also Italian if that makes any sense because most of my blood, excluding that Swiss German intrusion, comes from the political and geographical area known as Italy. Issues, such as Mediterranean anaemia, present in my sister and father, are due to their being Italian: it is a Mediterranean condition, as the name implies. Hence, I am Italian.
All and every comment about my cooking ability or lack thereof, my emotionality, my “passion”, my native language, those are all bullshit.
But you know, they are for everyone. “I am worried about this”. “Ah but of course that is because you suffer from anxiety just don’t worry about it!“. That is bullshit too, people who suffer from anxiety are just as entitled as everyone else to worry and not be dismissed because they suffer from anxiety.
“I am feeling sad today, melancholy”. “Oh god people who suffer form depression are so tedious!”. Depressed people are entitled to feel sad too.
“I vary, change, the very essence of my thoughts, and passions, and wants, and wishes, and drives, and everything else so frequently it drains me, it exhausts me, please make it stop.” “You are not bipolar what you feel is perfectly natural considering the life you had, so just accept it“.
There is your definition, the most important one: as long as there is a generally acceptable justification for whatever you’re feeling, as long as others feel you are justified in feeling or believing or thinking something, you are a.o.k..
I wanted to say: well excuse me, but I don’t feel it is acceptable, or normal. I am a grown up, I am aware of all the traumas and all the painful things I may have been through, I am also aware of all the good ones and I do not believe that my brain should have less than 100% ability because of those things. I choose not to accept that. It is not normal for me. For you, however, and anybody else, you have to accept it because that is the way I am, plain and simple, whether you diagnosd me or not, whether you labelled me or not, people should accept me and respect me as I am.
I am tired of trying to find a place for me, a place with others like me. In a way, I believe my teenage approach to this issue was the best one: the moment I was defined by someone, I changed tack. I wore a nice bomber jacket, I was called “paninara” (a type of purely Italian incredibly idiotic fashion for kids), I took it off. The first boy who loved me, really loved me, when I was 12-13 and dealing with being defined a slut, defied all his friends by remaining my devoted friend, even when he had been dumped as a boyfriend, by me. He remained loyal to me and defiant in the face of others until he died, a year later. He was just 15 and more mature and intelligent than any of those clogheads put together.
My “rebel” approach was “oh really, think you can define me? Looky here how I mess up all your preconceptions”.
That didn’t stop words hurting, and jobs lacking. My life has been determined and set in motion every time by definitions. Other people’s definitions, even when I refused them. I fail to make one of my dearest friends understand just how much I dislike being one of her “two favourite Italians”. Or my friend’s eye rolling when he found out I translate into English. Surely I am a native Italian speaker, even though I learnt Italian in South America when I was 8 for the first time and perfected it my stay in Italy, which ended when I moved to Britain in my late teens.
It seems people don’t know how to deal with you unless they define you. “My god, you are SO INTENSE.” So, now you have defined what I am, and implied that it is a negative, will that help you deal with me? NO! So what the hell is the point?
By defining you, they are restricting you, putting you in your place, limiting you, enclosing you.
To hell with them, I say.
Asides from the travel emergency and medical reasons, I am whatever I am doing in that moment. If defining me helps you, if it amuses you, that is fine. Sometimes you just want to stereotype and generalise because it’s fun and gives you something to talk about: I do it too!
But it is up to me to let that get to me or affect me in any way. Most definitions are just words thrown out there, only you can decide how much they limit you, how small they make you feel.
Who am I now then? I am a person, and I hope one day to have a big house where people can come and stay and feel welcome and leave taking with them self-dignity and pride in their own selves. So I take antidepressants and betablockers, so what? I can still do it.
How I will finance that is anybody’s guess. You may say I’m a dreamer, but that is me, and I feel it will happen. Any other definition, is only by the way, and only holds as long as I am being that: mum, wife, pet provider, friend, gamer.
Surely I can cope with being Italian for you, if that amuses you and I. Anything to make us smile.
My favourite birthday sharer (the other one is Britain’s PM David Cameron and now I understand that astrology is just wrong :((( Maybe Cameron’s was just a bad batch).