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  • Writer's picturemaggiehsmith07

I’m Not That Important

Almost daily in my life, people assume I am married to a man. I can guess why people make this assumption, although I never asked. I don’t get angry about this erroneous assumption. And frankly, I often do not correct this misunderstanding, in part because I feel that’s “straight privilege”. In 2018, it could still be dangerous for me to correct a misunderstanding. As a result, I frequently avoid labeling anyone because labeling is a luxury that I am bereft of. I work in HR so I am very conscious of the language I choose. “Spouse.” So as not to assume that an employee’s spouse is of the opposite gender that they are. Stuff like that. We label people, aloud or silently, in our own minds every single day based on the information we take in through our filter which informs how we see the world. Man. Woman. Straight. Gay. Harvard University has a tool that you can use to examine your own unconscious biases. We all have them. It would be nice to not have them but they’re an inevitable part of who we are so we may as well draw up a chair and get to know them by using this tool: Is labeling people bad? Not necessarily bad or good but it may not be necessary. But perhaps more dangerous than what other people label us is how we label ourselves. This, more than say someone labeling me straight or gay, is what holds me back. It’s what I work to overcome and correct. I personally have never labeled myself as straight or gay.  If asked to identify my sexuality, for some questionnaire, I bite my lip and frown at the page,hesitating. If I took the same questionairre more than once the selected answer may vary. Gay. Bi.  I know that “I’m just this woman who happens to love a woman.” has never been an available option. So maybe we should worry about the self-limiting labels we impose upon ourselves?  I know if I had a definitive answer to the gay/straight question I wouldn’t be blessed with this life I have created with my wife. (Wife?!?!).  

Years ago, when I first got sober, my sponsor told me, “Maggie - it’s none of your business what other people think of you.” She also told me, “Maggie - you’re not that important.” And, “Keep your side of the street clean.” I took this advice to heart and I’ve carried it with me one day at a time for 5,446 days. And, on most days, I don’t sweat things like labels, because a person like me doesn’t have this kind of luxury. If I start to sweat things like that, I could drink a gallon of craft beer or Malibu. Slippery slope. But some days I kinda rage about labels because maybe I haven’t felt well in a week or I’m concerned about my loved one who had a double mastectomy or my mom who’s had minor surgery and another on the horizon or the fact that my diet is complete rubbish or this HUGE project I’m managing and on deadline for. It’s easier for me to be upset about inconsequential things than these things — which makes me wonder what everyone else is so angry and upset about. But, I can’t spend a lot of time there when I should be over here, not that important, keeping my side of the street clean. 

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