Every year since I graduated high school, the group of womxn I used to hang out with (otherwise known as my “best friends” at the time) reunite over an adorably bougie, OC tea party. Every year, it’s the same: I arrive 35-40 minutes late, present for gift exchange in hand, and excited to see my friends after a year of new experiences to share. This year, however, was very different for me.
Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your take), each year since I started college has been more challenging than the next; I would consider 2014 to be one of the most difficult and rewarding years of my life. I finally feel myself ceasing some of the characteristics of the humxn I want to be and developing myself further. I’m imperfect and I’m okay admitting it.
I’m empowered by the strength in owning my mistakes and learning from them. I’m liberated by the consciousness I’ve had the privilege to have been afforded. I’m happy being me, for the first time in a long time.
Initially, I thought this year’s tea party would provide the same comfortable routine as previous years. To my naive surprise, I quickly realized how uncomfortable I really felt in that space. Out of the 12 womxn around me, I was 1 of only 3 womxn of color, 1 of us is differently-abled, and none of us are openly identified as queer (and if we did, that might start a gossip shit-storm).
Every bigoted comment drew a searing pain in my gut. These womxn were everything to me when I was a teenager; the once revered image I had of their boundless intellect and empowered nature was tarnished by their “anti-feminism” and “all lives matter” banter. The condescending conspiracies about “radicals” manufacturing the existence of white supremacy or toxic masculinity for their own critiquing pleasure made me nauseous.
How could I have grown to realize that I am a pawn of an oppressive, exploitive system that my “friends” live to reinforce?
There are few things more disheartening than reuniting with friends of eight years only to realize that you are meeting them again for the first time. Only now, you are a different persxn, one with critical thinking skills and a low tolerance for close-mindedness, meeting people you always knew, eloquent in their ignorance and complacency. Only now, you are rudely awoken to the color-blindly racist, misogynistic monster you used to seek validation from.
Though I spent most of my life trying to assimilate to the parameters of their comfort, they never sought to understand me.