Yesterday was my birthday! As I was approaching 25, I have been reflecting on who I am and who I want to be; I have really been thinking about what my story is.
There Will Be No Miracles Here was a fantastic memoir and Casey Gerald is an extraordinary storyteller. I first experienced him on a TED Talk about his nonprofit and then heard him featured as a guest on a podcast episode to talk about his book (two things my inner nerd–ok outer nerd–really enjoys).
My favorite part of the memoir was that it didn’t focus on his “great accomplishment” or what he was featured in his TED Talk for.
The story, much like who we are, didn’t seem like it was about being gay or about being a football player, or having a strained relationship with parents, or going to Yale and Harvard against all odds (I kind of hate this phrase. Why did you use it then, Tayler? Because it does show that there are structural forces in place to keep poor people and people of color in their place and makes it difficult for people to achieve the “American Dream”, but it also makes it seem like black people are inherently incapable of achieving great things because they’re naturally stupid, lazy, etc.).
Thinking back on the parts, none of them seem especially important; he didn’t make any of them seem especially profound to him. The tone of the book felt very much like, these are the hard lessons he has had to learn and for each of them, he is grateful. I feel like a lot of memoirs have a defining theme based on pivotal events in the writer’s life, but to me, this one just felt different.
It felt as if the sum of the parts of what has made Casey Gerald Casey Gerald coming together to make all of the parts profound. People can’t be reduced to one identity, one experience, one tragedy. We are the sum of our parts.
I am not just black, or a woman, or a daughter. I’m a nerd; I’m a feminist; I’m a Cancer (the zodiac sign, not the terminal illness. I’m too old for those jokes people made in high school every time I sported my Cancer necklace). I am a human being with messy, complicated emotions (mostly because I’m a Cancer).
All of the parts of me are constantly growing and changing. I pick up new parts; I shed parts that no longer serve me (also apparently, I love using semicolons in this post). Alone, none of these parts are important to talk about on their own (although, since it was my birthday, I often ask about birthdays to judge people by their zodiac signs. If you can’t tell by this post, I’m obsessed).
I hate when people ask for an interesting fact about me, because individual facts don’t articulate why I’m interesting (BUT my go to is always that I’m allergic to caffeine. Yes, look at me incredulously and yes, I do have a difficult time with survival. I may or may not nap in my office during lunch breaks).
Anybody can be a Game of Thrones fan (maybe not after season 8…) or a world traveler (Ok, I’ve only been to like 3 countries) or have a master’s degree. It’s the jigsaw pieces that somehow magically fit together to create an “interesting” picture.
Each of us as individuals have parts that are blended together to make us unique and our parts are what connect us with others.
So enough of my humble birthday brag, what are your favorite parts of you?