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I believe that the question of “Who am I?” runs in the back of just about everybody’s mind, whether consciously or subconsciously. Most of us think we have some type of idea of who we are. In reality though, is it really even possible for us to know fully and completely who we are as individuals? Or are we too close to ourselves that we fool ourselves into believing that we are more, less, or just different than who we truly are?
My parents divorced when I was too young to remember them ever being together as a couple. I lived with my mom for the majority of the year while my dad had me for nine weeks. Being the oldest child of my mothers, I began to believe that I was defined as just another oldest child. I got to be a lot of firsts for my mother to deal with. As I became older, my mother remarried to a man that I didn’t think treated her as he should. I began to play the role of protector, as much as a young teenager could anyway. At that time, my definition of myself shifted.
Still continuing to go through the early stages of life, I began to realize that I was not a “normal” person. I began to struggle with my desire for the same sex. My parents raised me to believe that men should be with women, and vise verse. As I went through my struggle, I thought that my life would be defined by my struggle for my sexuality.
I made the decision to join the Marine Corps after almost a year out of high school. On August 1st, 2011 I shipped off to boot camp to endure what seemed like the 13 worst weeks of my life. Upon graduation my life was solely defined by being a Marine. I believe this is about the fourth definition that I have had for myself up until this point in my life, with still more to come.
In 2012 the Marine Corps stationed me in 29 Palms, California with the Marine Corps Communications and Electronics school. My sole purpose at this point was to learn to fix radios before I continue on to my permanent assignment. I became diagnosed with HIV during my tour at the school. Since we are talking about definitions of me, we should make a note that once again my definition of myself changed. HIV began to define who I was as a person.
Later in the year I made the decision to come out to my friends and family as gay. First I came out to a few Marines that I worked with, then I decided to come out to my mother and grandmother. Soon everybody knew that I was gay. This time, a few definitions merged to make one. I became the Gay, HIV positive Marine. I even made YouTube videos introducing myself as everyone’s “Favorite Positive Marine.”
In December 2013, I married the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. That changed my definition of myself to “husband.” Then, in 2015, I left him due to abuse and other issues. At that point I became “divorcee.” My mother and siblings moved in with me at the beginning of 2015 and I became their provider.
I have defined myself as kind, fair, loyal, ignorant, arrogant, prideful, caring, smart, and self conscious. Throughout my limited life experience I think I have come to realize that we begin our lives defined as a human baby. And then throughout life we will become defined by many different things, some that are temporary, some that will last forever, and some that we may or may not necessarily want. All of these definitions I have mentioned in this article define who I am, and I continue to learn even more about myself every day, but I think the best definition that I can give myself is this: I am me and nobody else is me, and through the good and the bad I should be proud to just be me.
We are all unique, and it isn’t the sole definition that we try to give ourselves that makes us unique. It is all of the little definitions that add up to make us somebody unlike anyone else on this planet. You should be just as proud to be you as I am to be me. We all have flaws to work through, but our flaws are as much a part of our beauty as our strengths. Go forth, continue to learn more about yourself every day, and remember that you are more than just a single definition. You, and everyone in this world, are something that can never be defined!