I Realized

I realized I was a woman, or more precisely at the time, a girl, the day in first grade I noticed boys were looking up my dress when I was on the monkey bars. I started wearing shorts under my dresses. I now prefer pants.

I realized I liked other women when I was nineteen and noticed I was heartbroken when my friend, who burned a hole in my jacket with her clove cigarette the year before, was no longer in school. I started kissing a lot of ­people; I now have an amazing girlfriend.

I realized I was white when I was twenty-two and noticed the invis­ible backpack of privilege I carried around. I started reading a lot about race. I’m still reading now, and am adjusting my actions and interactions accordingly.

This, of course, is not an exhaustive list of my identities. I ­could add cisgender and ­middle class; I ­could add daughter and lover. When I look at my many identities, I am struck by how old I was when I truly realized the privilege of being white, and how young I was when I understood the oppression of being a woman. Although the discrimination I faced because of my gender hit me in the face pretty early, privilege is a part of my identity and a reality of my culture I ­could not have figured out on my own.

I am grateful to Unitarian Universalism for helping me develop and analyze my identities. This faith has helped me deal with the oppression I face, and realize the privilege I have. I am grateful that my religion has fostered and spurred my development and pushed me to develop aspects of myself as I ­could not have done alone. By growing older amid the support of this community, I have realized many aspects of my identity. I am still growing into them. I’d like to think that I’m a more out queer woman last year than I was five years ago, a more racially aware white person this year than I was last year, and that I will be a stronger woman tomorrow than I am today.

The sad yet relieving truth about all of these identities is this: I’m not good at being any one of them. And I prob­ably never will be. Yet it is helpful for me to think about these different aspects of myself, so I intentionally develop my different parts and maintain balance.

I am still growing into my many identities, and for that, I am grateful. I know I will never perfectly be any one of them, and so I’ll keep growing and getting better at being the intersection of them all.

Cover of Becoming: A Spiritual Guide for Navigating Adulthood


By Kayla Parker

From Skinner House Books

A spiritual companion for young adults and all who live amid transitions and tensions. Dozens of carefully selected readings address themes that are prominent for people in their twenties and early thirties.

Buy This Book