When I was in 5th grade, I had a spelling test. One of the words was “definitely” which I kept thinking was proper spelled “defiantly.” I remember getting into an argument with my teacher about how the word was properly spelled, and much to my dismay, the dictionary proved me wrong. While I learned the proper spelling for “definitely,” I also learned that I was acting in the way of the word I was actually spelling: defiantly. That moment has stuck with my in the twelve years since I graduated Mrs. Mather’s 5th-grade class. (Hi Mrs. Mather if you’re reading this!)
: full of or showing a disposition to challenge, resist, or fight: full of or showing defiance: bold, impudent defiant rebelsa defiant refusal
I’ve learned that recently I’ve been living my life defiantly. Defiant against society, defiant against my family and defiant against myself. For anyone who’s been following my blog for at least the last year, you know I wear my heart and mind on my sleeve. You also know I haven’t had the easiest transition into adulthood post-grad. While some people disagree with how transparent I am, I’ve always found it as a source of comfort and strength.
Nothing in my life is particularly groundbreaking or controversial, but I’ve recently fallen under criticism for the transparency I provide in the goings-on of my life. In rebuttal though, frankly, I don’t care.
Well before I started blogging, I’ve always been extremely open with my life. Before I realized how liberating it was to share my life, I kept everything bottled up: my sexuality, my beliefs, my opinions, everything. But I learned that, for me, the best way to live my life was to release the weight off of my shoulders.
For traditional Italian-American families, I know that’s hard to comprehend. For those of you not privy to the way of most Italian-Americans, typically everything stays within the immediate family. It’s a way of maintaining la bella figura, a philosophy and way of life for us. While I try to live my life in relation to la bella figura, I also recognize that sometimes it’s not in your best interest to keep things bottled up. Like the traditional Italian-American way of life, my immediate family believes “everything that happens within our house should stay within our house” and while I get it, sometimes that’s not the healthiest thing to do – at least for me.
First, I’ve always felt like the black sheep in my family. I’ve never felt like I had a voice or that my voice could be heard. In my immediate family, there are four of us. My mom, my dad, my younger sister and myself. I am the exact opposite of all three of them. When it came to parenting me, I know my parents had a hard time understanding who I am and the way I look at the world – they still do. With my sister, they had it easy. To easily frame it, they all support Donald Trump and Fox News is the only news station that’s watched at my parent’s house. I, on the other hand, supported Hillary Clinton and denounce Fox News as a reliable (or real) new source. Whenever there was an argument, I perpetually feel ganged up on. Three against one. I would share my life to help gain clarity on my own perspective. I refuse to be gaslighted and when it’s three against one, gaslighting happened more than anyone will care to admit.
Second, I’m queer. And as anyone who’s been on the path to come out of the closet, you know what it’s like to feel silenced. You know what it feels like to not be able to speak or live your truth. When I came to terms with my identity, I felt liberated. I could live my life as who I truly was without hiding – even though my dad perpetually lectured me on how no one needed to know. Almost as an act of defiance to my father and to mainstream society, I’ve always worn my queerness as a badge of honor and used it as a tool to express myself openly in all aspects of my life.
In transitioning into adulthood, especially in a tumultuous time within my family and within our society as a whole, I’ve learned that the best way to live is to live defiantly. If there’s injustice, I will fight it. Even if everyone is telling me to go left, I will go right if I’ve evaluated that doing so is the most logical decision.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that ultimately live your life the best way you know how. Be defiant. Argue. Stand up for what you believe in and allow whomever you trust into your mind. Be comfortable with the uncomfortable. Respect everyone. Listen. Question everything. Try to live life the best way you know how. Don’t let people gaslight you. Stay woke. No matter how close someone is to you, it is okay to cut them out if they’re toxic. Just be the best version of yourself you can possibly be. You’re always a work in progress.
So thank you, Mrs. Mather, for teaching me to definitely be defiant.