Wednesday, August 22, 2012


My sophomore year of college, I was in a bad place.
That doesn't really matter because in the scheme of things: in a lot of ways, I am still awful.
I'm not proud of this fact, but I view it as growth.
As in, recognizing how horrible of a human I have been has to mean that I'm maturing?
Or something.

I have been someone who defined myself by whether I had or didn't have a boyfriend.
In my mind, having a boyfriend meant I was wonderful, and not having one spoke to my inadequacies.
I know now that I am profoundly inadequate in many areas, boyfriend or not, though at the time I am not for want of boyfriends.
But anyway, because of this above-mentioned character flaw, I used to post nothing but pictures of my guy-du-jour and I. I used to regale my facebook and myspace friends with status updates about how in love I was, we were, he was. Even when things were bad. And when things were even worse, I would spew out these awful, horrible details of our personal lives onto the internet.
& then pretend like they never happened days later when we were back together and he was once again my default photo.

I was a humble bragger.
I was a tease.
I was the worst kind of insecure: the kind of insecure parading as narcissism.

For a while, I had blocked the person I was from my memory because it was too painful to confront the fact that I was a douche.
& I'm not saying I'm not anymore, I'm just saying I'm less of a douche than I was.
But anyway, I found all of this out by viewing my posts on facebook timeline.
I'm not going to delete them because I believe that I was a douche because I was going through a tough time. Like, if I could pretend to be a narcissist, then I could convince myself that I really was as in love and happy and great as I was bragging I was.

& now I segue into my current life.
What I've taken from this is that I've learned a lot about empathy from my douche bag times.
A lot of times, we see a douche bag & think, "I hate that person! They're so douchey!"
But what we should think is that they need a friend.
I wouldn't know this but for the fact that I was once a douche.

& so, what I'm saying is, that I learned how to be more patient because I try now to understand people where as before, I was quick to write people off and very much blind to the fact that I was writing off people who were like me. Maybe I was writing them off to avoid confronting how much alike we were in our obnoxiousness.

My most recent tattoo, which I'm not ready to show because it's currently swollen and scabby (don't worry, this is a normal process in tattoo healing), is a silhouette of Medusa inspired by Charmaine Olivia's artwork.

When I first came to Texas, the humidity here was too much for my naturally curly hair and the texture changed. It went from being big spiral curls to frizzy waves and my once long bangs tightened up to make a bonnet of curls along the top of my head. Then, my mom tried cutting my hair herself out of curiosity. To be honest, I have never forgiven her for this because when my hair grew back, instead of frizzy waves, I had one large mass of frizz.
We lived, at the time, in a part of Texas where there weren't many people of color and different was not welcomed per se, in my elementary school. I was teased: a lot.
For a really long time, I thought I was ugly because I had curly hair.

Along with this image of Medusa, I also got the words, "Look like an innocent flower," which is half of a line from Shakespeare's Macbeth, who some scholars describe as the male Medusa. The other half of the line is, "but be like the snake that hides beneath it."

Being picked on as a little kid and growing into an insecure quasi-adult who became a douche as a means to get by, who grew into a quasi-adult capable of reflecting on all of this, I learned that my suffering really shaped me into a healthy, nearly sane person.
I couldn't be here but for the fact that I've been there.

& now I know, my curly hair is a physical tie back to the person I love the most: my dad, who is Puerto Rican but of the African persuasion.
Having curly hair made me a kinder child, a more patient adult, a more loving friend.
My peers and even some of the faculty at my old schools were blinded by my curly hair; what did it mean? It meant I was related to a Black person so I had to be poor, low class, dumb.
What they failed to see was the person inside who would graduate from high school top ten percent, get into a great state college and leave there with a degree, and go on to law school.
And they never saw the parents that fought to get me all those wonderful places.

I wear my hair straight on most days because the humidity is still too much me but I wanted the curly-haired girl inside me to always be visible.

And anyway, also, I'm sorry for being an ass to those who knew me then, and to those who stuck with me--thank you so much for giving me a chance and looking past the douche-baggery. 

1 comment:

  1. This was such a great post. I love the tattoo (or how you describe it), it sounds very personal. I totally get your feelings on your hair, since my hair is also super curly. I could go on for days the stupid things I did to it to try to make it "normal" like everyone else, but you're definitely right in saying that being different and having no real way to change it makes you a stronger person. It's amazing the judgment that one can receive just based on having different hair, let alone skin tone. You've definitely grown throughout the time that I've been reading, and although it's super cliche, the sky is the limit.

    One last thing. I can't even fathom how you get your hair to stay straight in Texas humidity. Mine starts to frizz up like two hours after I straighten it, and that's in Chicago!