The Part of Your Identity That Doesn’t Fit Into Categories

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Lutalica.

You tell the world who you are
In a million different ways.
Some are subtle, some are not.

But it doesn’t seem to matter:
This world has already got you pegged.

When you were born they put you in a little box,
And slapped a label on it.
So they could keep things organized,
And not have to think about what’s inside.

Over time you learn to make yourself comfortable
Packaging your identity in different combinations
Until you feel like you belong,
And can wear your labels proudly.

But there’s a part of you that never found a home
Rattling around in categories that never really did you justice.

You look around at other people,
Trying to judge how loosely they fit in their own lives
Sensing a knot of confusion hidden beneath a name tag.

And you realize we’re still only strangers,
Who assume we already know what the other is going to say,
As if the only thing left to talk about is
Who belongs in what category
And which labels are offensive.

You have to wonder if these boxes are falling apart.
If we should be writing our identities by hand,
And speak only for ourselves, in our own words,
So we could take our chances out in the open
And meet each other as we are,
Asking: “What is it like being you?”

—And be brave enough to admit
That we don’t already know the answer.

Maybe it’ll mean that we’ve finally arrived,
Just “unpacking the boxes”
Making ourselves at home.

And maybe one day we’ll look back and wonder
How we managed to live together in the same house for so long,
And never stopped to introduce ourselves.

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

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