Being Whole – Katie West

I am not just one thing. I cannot simply be a wife. Or a teacher. Or a photographer. Or a student. I am all of these things and when people expect me to only be one of those things, they are expecting me to stop being a whole person.

Remember when you were in middle school and you thought your teachers lived at the school and whenever you saw them anywhere that was decidedly not at school, you were shocked and kind of couldn’t fathom that your teachers were actually whole people? Who did stuff? That wasn’t teaching? What a disservice we did our teachers. Or how about remember when we were extremely rude to the McDonald’s cashier because they were the McDonald’s cashier and there were pickles on our burger when we specifically asked for no pickles and we forgot that that McDonald’s cashier was also a son, and a writer, and a student, and a boyfriend, and a hero to his younger sister?

It seems like such a simple thing to not expect people to only be one thing. And it’s strange because people simultaneously tell us to have varied interests and facets of ourselves while expecting us to be just one thing. If we are just a teacher, then we are easier to ignore. If we are just a McDonald’s cashier, then we are easier to treat badly. If we are just a woman, then we are easier to pass over. For example.

If your students see you working at The Keg, laugh because lord knows (and now they do too) that you can’t afford your mortgage on a teacher’s salary. If that jerk is rude to you because pickles were mistakenly placed on her burger, laugh because you know your sister made you a cape last weekend and it’s likely no one ever made this jerk a cape. If your boss is surprised that you are a painter, or your grandma thinks you shouldn’t vacation without your wife, or your teammates scoff when you tell them you write comics, or your boyfriend doesn’t like that you model for erotic photographers, laugh because you know you can’t be only one thing and it is RIDICULOUS for anyone to ever believe that you could be.

Sure, life might be easier if we hid most parts of ourselves to give the impression that we were only one thing, but fuck that. I would much rather be a whole person and have a life with potentially more difficulties, than pretend I am only one thing so I can be miserable in a slightly easier life. And hopefully the more people who see that we are whole people–that it is totally possible for us to be both musicians and bankers, artists and baseball players, sound engineers and baristas, tattoo artists and secretaries, data analysts and sci-fi writers, teachers and naked on the internet, photographers and taxi drivers, parole officers and inventors, vet technicians and fetish models–the more people who realize this possibility because more people are refusing to be simply one thing, the goddamn better.

Don’t ever let someone make you feel like you can only be one thing. Fuck that. Be everything.

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