Everyone has her place.

That’s true right? It all fits together. The blonde lady who smiles at everybody and tries to save the world, the public sociologists who get all the Facebook likes, the theorists who seem born knowing who invented which term, the demographers with all their fancy models. Everyone fits in perfectly. But none of them is me. Oh, and of course, there are the critical folks. They are the coolest and I so want to be one of them. Sometimes I almost feel as if I am one of them. But then that doesn’t seem quite right. How could my 23-years of brainwashing education make me capable of critical thinking? My country didn’t have an anti-colonialist history (according to everyone from the former colonial powers) and as a matter of fact, it’s becoming a neo-colonial power—there goes my ability to critique global inequality. Plus, I am too good at statistics—everyone knows you cannot be a real critical thinker if you understand numbers. So maybe I could fit in as a statistician (however much I would have hated that label is not important, having a label is)? I am an East Asian and everything. But then I am also a woman and apparently would never be good enough to assist in advanced stats class. So, I am a highly educated soon-to-be-professor who cannot find her place. Is that how you spell irony or hypocrisy?

Bitterness and snarky jokes aside, this does feel strange. I had to stop here last week when I was writing this post as I realized that I am not quite sure whether my confusion comes from my awkward position as an intellectual or my ambiguity about who I am as a person. Maybe it’s about how weirdly those two morph together. As a person, I am probably boringly normal, with my tiny cute smile decorating my feminine Asian face. It throws people off when I walk around with a “BITCH” tank top. My struggle to be taken seriously intellectually seems to be deeply connected to the assumption that I am not supposed to have a bitchy personality. So I suppose my confusion comes from how much who I am dictates what I can/should/do know and think—to me and to others. This is probably not necessarily a negative thing if I truly reject the idea of any knowledge being “objective”. Then why am I also angry and frustrated all the time for not being able to find myself a clear label if all these labels are just made up? Or am I more frustrated with the fact that nobody else seems to be struggling when they should? (Maybe they are just not telling me?) Why can we not just all be weird and without a place?

Then I became confused by all this confusion and ambiguity I have: Without my credentials as a future university professor or the reassurance that my closest friends (who also are very high in social and cultural capital) share at least some of these sentiments, would I still have all this nonsense in my head? Would I feel safe to put it in words? Maybe the space for a non-place and being/becoming what Unamerican calls “someone who is hyper-aware of her own thoughts” is what I should be thankful for and aware of as my privileges? Then who am I to judge who should or should not be comfortable with their labels?

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2 thoughts on “Everyone has her place.

  1. Potato, you are not alone. Thanks for putting this into words – this feeling of not quite fitting, and the desperate search for some kind label/group where I would fit.

  2. “I had to stop here last week when I was writing this post as I realized that I am not quite sure whether my confusion comes from my awkward position as an intellectual or my ambiguity about who I am as a person.” I feel you, right down to confusing yourself by writing a spiral. In my case, I feel intellectually like I have a pretty comfortable identity (thanks, whiteness!) but I wonder the same thing about my self-reflection and criticism. Is it really coming from a place of sharpened critical consciousness, or am I just plain old confused and unsure of myself?

    I also have to tell you that I take you seriously as one of the sharpest minds I’ve ever met.

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