I rushed out of my car to write this down. How hilarious is that? I have been asked the question "What do you want to do with your life?" since I was one year away from graduating high school. I could never answer as I had all these things I wanted to be when I was little still stuck in my head. An astronaut, a mechanic, a race car driver, a cowboy, an Apache, a cop and Spiderman. Those where the images that flitted through my mind in rapid secession in an endless frustrating loop whenever I was asked my plans for life.
I realised on my drive home why I could never answer that simple question. I never got the chance to fully explore my personality. Every time I wanted to play the leader, the hero, the decisive, confident and self-assured person I was always told no. Those roles were not for me as I was the victim, the hostage, the follower, the insecure, fragile and self-doubting person who needed to find a protector. I felt such a disconnect from society. Was I normal? Why can I not stop myself from stepping into the roles they say are not for me?
I withdrew from pretend play as a child and sunk myself deep into my comic books. The X-Men. I loved the stories where the people were as different as I was. Those who showed that I did not have to be a follower and there should be no question of my ability to lead based on gender. Those comic books were my treasures. I kept them in pristine condition in the plastic sleeves they came in. They helped me do what no other adult in my life was willing to do; let me be myself.
I used what I learned from the comic books to take the information the adults provided me with, of what they thought a child of my gender should be, and I projected it. Everyone thinks that the superhero is the creation of the citizen's imagination when it is the normal, unassuming citizen that is the creation of the superhero's imagination. When I was myself it drew negative attention to me. I learned how to pretend to be an empty headed idiot. To be invisible to those who expect nothing from you. When the adults watched I was one mirage and with my peers I was another.
My family was convinced I was a borderline imbecile and I did nothing for years to dispel that image or discourage the many lectures regarding what a horrible, disappointing child I was. It was all part of the image. My alter-ego. Sometimes I wanted to shuck it all and say "I've done all this stuff that people respect me for which you know nothing about." when the sneering laughter got a bit too much, yet I knew it all would be met with disbelief. Almost as if I claimed to really be Rogue in disguise. So, I buried the frustration and kept the mirage they wanted in place.
Today I sat in my car, with the engine idling and realised a few things. Whenever I was asked the question "What do you plan to do with your life?" there was always a preconceived idea being held up where I was found lacking. It was never a question meant to be answered and deep down I already knew that on an unconscious level yet the frustration of knowing they kept discarding what I've done in favour of what they want me to become still rose. Another habit I did not realise I had.
So I sat there today and I smiled. I smiled and smiled and smiled until I believe my jaw would start to creak from the strain. Our 4 year old chimed in from the backseat to her older sister "Mommy's happy." Do you know she's right? It is not necessary to toss off the cloak of my alter-ego to reveal my true identity. Then I also realised that I may have read one too many comic books but who cares. I mean, really? Who cares?
The next time I am asked that question, I will smile a smile steeped in secrets because I have finally realised that the question is unimportant. My answer will be simply "This and that. This and that." because my answer is unimportant too. I already am who I am. I have always been who I am. I was already living my life despite the obstacles thrown my way. Without their support. It all started with that first breath. I did not need to grow up to be someone else. I was already who I was born to be. Me.