IT IS A SPECIAL KIND OF PRIVILEGE TO BELIEVE IN YOURSELF.
“You’re going to be a dentist, just like your mom.”
It was so innocent; such a normal thing: like father, like son. Like mother, like daughter.
I can’t say the exact moment it happened, but one day I realized that all the old tired aphorisms in the world held such insurmountable truth in them that I couldn’t believe I’d heard them all before. They were like air, like the sky: always there, so much so that they ceased to exist in my head. So given that I had never once stopped and considered them.
I grew up in a white beach town, and for the entire time I lived there, I thought that was the only way to grow up. This was the norm. This was the self. It was the default. It’s not a conscious thought, or a phrased ever uttered. It just…was. And it was only after I left that I realized it had existed at all.
When I came here, I became cognizant of the other. I became cognizant that I *was* the other. I became cognizant that we were all the other.
I guess that’s what I mean. My mom was a dentist, and my dad was an engineer. To be an artist — to be creative — that was the other.
I remember when I came to college and saw everyone doing all these amazing things: making movies, music, writing policy, publishing articles and emailing Janet Yellen. It was all so foreign, this stuff that I’d heard about growing up. This world in which important people were two points of connection away, not a million. This world in which so many options were open, and kids — my peers — had the freedom to be *what they wanted* and have their passions be heard; their causes they championed with far-reaching consequences across the *world*.
For the first time, I was interacting with the world.
I remember feeling alone.
I remember feeling out of place. I remember conversations with the kids of CEOs and Ivy League academia, their words twisting around my small town head, their casual indifference far, far more painful than any outright insult.
WRITE THE THINGS YOU DON’T KNOW ABOUT THE THINGS YOU KNOW.