What It’s Like Being An ‘Other’

There is a feeling, it takes place inside your bones. It resonates from within and rattles your being. It is the feeling of otherness. Like you don’t belong in this place, in this space because you are an other among many. Smile young man they say, you have no reason not to.

But they do not live in this body, they do not think with this mind, they do not see through these eyes.

I am not a them nor a they. I am not a we nor an us. I am a me, wholly and unapologetically. But because I choose to be defined as such I’m not accepted into the social circles that society has created. We have an obsession with labeling, defining, and placing people into boxes so that we can feel safe. It gives us a sense of control to define someone. Even when we say, “No I am not this,” others argue and say, “Oh but you clearly are.”

I am not a this nor a that. I choose to be a combination of many things. I define who I am and I live according to my own principles. I do not force myself to be bound up within a rigid set of guidelines. No one is allowed to hand me a How To book on existing. I claim identities from many spaces in many places, but that does not mean that I have to fit the criterion perfectly.

People want to polarize my identity because they can’t accept that I choose to simply live without the boundaries of labels. So I become an other to them. I can’t be specified. I do not belong in this group because I don’t adhere strictly to their principles. I do not belong in that group because I don’t believe in all the same things they do.

So I am tossed into a middle ground. This abyss. Engulfed by darkness, because I am not allowed the privilege of sharing the lights with others around me. They say the price of admission to get out is to claim a box. So I scream, “I do not want to be placed in a box. I do not want to be a this or a that. I don’t want to be a we or an us, I just want to be me!” They click their tongues and reply, “Sooner or later you’ll pick a side. We’ll size you up, and box you right.”

Instead of wasting my energy explaining who I choose to be, I just let it go. Because even when I claim solid identities, there are always those who don’t believe me or those who say I told you so. Ironically then I become the one they call cliquey because I have to be careful in whom I choose to tell my narrative. Then they feel the need to re-tell it and add their own labels of who they want you to be, because it gives them power to do so.

So instead of fight, I’ll be over here sipping coffee from my cup and letting the tears slowly trek down my cheeks. There is pain in being an other, but I can’t imagine living a life I don’t want to. As I clutch my cup, I stare out my window at the skyline. I heave a sigh as I think to myself…Oh God, what am I doing here? Thought Catalog Logo Mark


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