Issue #1: HelloJanuary 23rd, 2012 by Claire
You know those little ice-breaker games? I’m thinking of one in particular– where you’re in a big group of people you don’t know, maybe in a class, or a seminar, and your host decides to go around in a circle with, ‘Tell us your name, and a little bit about yourself’. I hate that game. I never have a good answer. If I say just one thing, I get labeled and filed away.
Let’s see… My name is Claire. Like you and everyone else, I am a lot of different things.
I’m twenty-five. That’s twenty-five years of memories, education, trials, triumphs, and lessons learned.
I’m five-foot four, one hundred and ten — but you’ll never see it, because the heels make me five-seven. I wear make-up and a suit to work. I have a seventeen dollar bottle of Tigi Rockstar volumizing mousse on my bathroom counter. I don’t judge or value based on appearances, but I’d still like to have fun with mine before they’re gone.
I run half-marathons, test limits, and have a fondness for mischief. I can skydive, bungee-jump, and rock climb, but I also strive to take care of what’s been given to me. Except for that time I caught air in the Jeep.
I’ve lived abroad. I try not to slouch. I’m not afraid of the dance floor.
I have confidence, and then I have insecurities… they’re probably not so different from yours. I was once captain of the cheer team, but I’m also the spawn of nerd and gamer culture. I have two cats named Optimus Prime and Megatron. I keep a dusty, sentimental copy of Final Fantasy 7 at the back of my entertainment center. (And if I still play it on the PS3 I bought with my tax return… I’ll probably never tell you.)
I’m not afraid to laugh at myself… but I still hate singing ‘Happy Birthday,’ because my voice squeaks without fail on the last stanza.
I eat ice cream out of the carton.
I have a college education. I’m ordained to perform marriage ceremonies. History, art and writing are my passions… but not necessarily in that order.
I don’t subscribe to drugs, alcohol, or religion; I subscribe to coffee, great friends, and Groupon. I’ve been called the girl next door by some, and then I’ve been called an unconventional anomaly by others.
I don’t like to pick sides; I’d rather make my own. Just because I don’t agree doesn’t mean I don’t understand. It doesn’t mean I don’t sympathize. Just because we differ doesn’t mean we can’t get along.
I’ve loved and lost. I’ve felt pain that burns too hot for words, and I’ve had to rebuild my world from rubble and ashes more than once. I know the difference between letting spite poison one’s heart and using it as fuel to rise, conquer and create.
I know what it is to experience inexplicable joy. I am independent. I take responsibility for my actions. I’ll tell you if I’m wrong… And if you’re hurting, I won’t tell you I was right. I take my fears one day at a time, preferably over breakfast. I have no regrets.
And I am also waiting until marriage to have sex.
So, what am I? Who am I? Those are all things that I am, but they’re not everything.
It’s hard enough to accurately define a person even when you know twenty-five things about them. Harder still when you know only one. And yet all it takes is one thing for us to assign a label. We’ve all done it.
When you tell someone you’re a virgin and will remain a virgin until marriage, they categorize you. And, in our modernly sex-crazed world, that is understandable. They drop you into a mold, whether you belong there or not. Sometimes, your choice becomes an offense. Sometimes it is viewed as an unfathomable problem that needs to be explained. Sometimes your audience demands a reason. Sometimes you become a source of ridiculed entertainment. Sometimes you are respected… and other times you are shunned.
It’s tough to select a path that goes against the grain. Everyone wants to be accepted and loved. It’s so easy to be swayed along with the flow. And sometimes that flow is agreeable. But when we come to those forks when it’s not, those are the times to make your choice carefully. Calmly. Deliberately.
Because at the end of the day, someone out there is going to ostracize you for turning off the common path. Someone is going to laugh at you for a choice you’ve made. Someone is going to scorn you. And in the end? The only thing worse than being rejected for a choice you’ve made that belongs in your heart, is being rejected for a choice you’ve made that doesn’t.
So, I’ll go first:
My name is Claire. I’m twenty-five. My choices are defined; I am not.