feel a tightness in my chest
only to realize
i’ve been holding my breath
its been a dry well
parched for awhile
i bundle up every night
and eavesdrop on
conversations i will never be
a part of
i’ve always existed in a continuum
of being in between
because i never truly fit in
living a life of limbo
In some way or another we can relate to this. Sometimes we are caught in between, pressured to choose between two identities/groups. Yet maybe we can live in the middle. We don’t have to choose either one. Its possible, that we can inhabit two identities and yet still be, a whole person. Indeed that is something we all have to learn to be comfortable with, living in the crux of in betweens. If we can understand that some truths manifest in shades of gray instead of black and white, surely we wear more than one identity/label for ourselves.
I catch myself always having to choose between two identities. Are you Chinese or Malay? Are you a member of clique A or clique B? Introvert or extrovert? Liberal or conservative? Why do you remain ever so mysterious?
Just as I am pressured to ascribe to one identity, I back away quickly from both sides. And that is how I continuously live in a limbo. Just as I start getting closer to a group of friends, I catch myself wondering if I truly belong or just merely a visitor. What am I in this space? Am I a stranger-turned-member? Maybe I want to live in that shade of gray, neither one or another, just so I can understand both sides of the conversation. Outsiders to the group tell me their unsolicited opinions about the group. Granted, their views are valid. But being in the group also makes me understand the members and strangely I feel at home there too. I don’t intentionally choose to be occupying two spaces and be a stranger and a member all the same. I just find myself in such circumstances. Nevertheless, this limbo comes with the anxiety of asking myself, “Should I intervene when I sense conflict?”, “Should I tell them what people think of them?” or even importantly, “What if I got it all wrong and things are actually not as they seem?”.
However, wearing multiple identities has its perks too. It means you can mix with both groups, yet never be fully categorized as either one. It also means more social invitations from both groups. If I ever needed to take a step back, I can be alone, and contemplate my place in the group or identities people associate me with. In the end, ideally I hope we don’t ever have to need labels to truly identify where and how we have come to belong in a place. Labels, identities are necessary for us to find meaning in communities we choose to engage in, but these labels will only be a part of us, never to define us.
I’m not struggling with these identities anymore. I am content with being neither one or another, because it has allowed me to live in the grayest shade. I will not let labels define me.