Turning 50: Don’t Be so Binary

One of the best lessons to come from the non-binary gender conversation is simply this: don’t be so binary.

The self-love movement is a great example of what I’m saying. Initially, self-love was a women’s issue that was based on taking time for oneself, which may have included pedicures, salon visits, and spa days. Then, another school of thought came along, which basically said, self-love isn’t about pedicures and spa days. It’s about going to the doctor, seeking therapy, and getting in touch with yourself. There was a huge pendulum shift that didn’t seem to allow for two things to co-exist. Why can’t self-love be both? I mean, it’s about love of self, which could be as varied as we are. What I think loving myself looks like may not be what you think.

Nothing is black and white, but we’ve made everything black and white.

I once read an example where someone used the bible to explain non-binary gender and its terms. What follows is a loose interpretation, with no citation, because I can’t find it, so here goes: This person had described how even though the bible says that God created the sun and the moon, we know that’s not all that exists when we talk about the sun and the moon. We’ve experienced sunrises and sunsets, both of which illustrate the “sun.” We’ve seen half-moons, full moons, and as I’ve shown on this blog, waxing gibbous, which are different moon phases, yet each of these is the moon. They are just variations of perception.

Two things can exist at the same time, but conversations steer us to only choose one.

My friend, Dr DB sent this IG meme to me: If EVERYONE needs therapy, then the problems EVERYONE is dealing with are systemic, cultural…too big to be confronted alone between two people. It’s actually a grave injustice to make individuals responsible for this.

My first thought was maybe. While it’s true that we are a part of a few overwhelming systems that require us to live against our nature, I fear that messages like the above will make people stop working on themselves because it seems pointless. Systems are phkd up, but so is running around with unresolved trauma and unhealthy behaviors, which impact your inner self, inner circle, and society as a whole. In Rest is Resistance, Tricia Hersey suggested that “we can craft a life outside of toxic systems,” and I agree. Hersey’s manifesto requires everyone to heal on an individual level, in order to effect life on a societal level. Therein lies the nuance between binary schools of thought, right?

There’s nuance in everything, even people.

I’ve experienced people seeing me as one thing, based on who I’ve shown myself to be: I’ve been characterized as rude, mean, intelligent, and brave. Those who see me as rude and mean have stuck with that; it doesn’t matter what I do outside of those markers, that’s who I am to them. Those who believe me to be intelligent listen to what I say, sans critical thought. For them, I don’t have to qualify anything because their minds are made up. See how binary thinking can also cause you to miss out on someone’s whole self? Separately, neither of things define me; however, I’ve been all of them…at some point or another.

When we choose to make something black or white, we are literally denying nuances. We are saying to one another that an experience can only be this or that, that a person can only be one thing. And that’s not reality.

So, that’s the fourth major thing I want to share. Nothing is binary. Everything is shaded, even ourselves as human beings. I get it. Believing things are cut and dry makes life easier, right? Life seemed simple when there were just “men” and “women.” There was nothing to figure out. But ignoring subtleties is not reality. Reality will always be found in that gray area, and depending on what we’re talking about, it can be as beautiful as a sunrise, or as messy as healing in a toxic world.

Postscript: I am not entertaining vile conversations about the LGBTIQ community, transgender surgeries, or anything in between in the comments. I’ve only used the term non-binary as an example for this write-up.

I’m turning 50 on May 23rd, and I’m processing and documenting it here. Being on the earth for half a century, interacting with people, has taught me a few things, and I’ll be sharing them with you through June. Here are the first three:


36 thoughts on “Turning 50: Don’t Be so Binary

  1. I’ve been trying to explain nonbinary and some other more current thinking expressions to my very narrow thinking (not narrow minded because there’s a difference) neighbor. She just hasn’t heard of things and when she does, she often doesn’t understand so she gets it mixed up. Anyway, the idea of things needing to be one one side of the line or the other is important in games like tennis and soccer, but not so much in other parts of life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like that you determined the difference between narrow-minded and narrow-thinking, because you’re right. Some people want to understand, but they need to be walked through it; others don’t want to hear it, no matter what you say.

      And I agree…there no winners in binary thinking.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m sure a lot of people can’t understand the difference but I’m always trying to help people understand. When people aren’t willing to actually have a discussion because their need to be right is stronger than any other motivation, I walk away.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The older I get, the more I realize that other than the actual colors of black and white, very few things are actually black and white. (And come to think of it, technically, black is the absence of color and white is the combination of all color, or so my artist friends say. It would seem to be the opposite to me, but I’m not an artist.) But so much in our society: religion, politics, education, everything….encourages us to think in terms of “black and white.” That’s neither honest or helpful!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Once again, you’ve written a great post, Katherin. I have spent most of my life trying to move away from black and white thinking. I know a lot of it came from my mother’s religious beliefs.
    I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t even understand what binary meant. So I thank you for educating me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Judy!

      I think religion does a very good job of creating binary situations: heaven/hell, God/Satan, etc., so I’m not surprised.

      No worries on not knowing the term! I’m constantly googling words and concepts lol

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m very impressed with how you are not afraid to speak your mind and push boundaries. I’ve never agreed with how quickly people pass judgement without truly knowing the other person. I was very fortunate to have a father who supported and used the term non-binary before it was commonplace. Being non-binary should be about the freedom to explore and express oneself without having to explain yourself. Unfortunately, societal expectations will always lag behind.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Jennifer! It comes from decades of not feeling as if I could say what I want the way I want 😉

      I like this definition: “the freedom to explore and express oneself without having to explain yourself.” That’s what it’s all about.

      Side note: my husband literally just asked me if there’s anything else I want to do in this life, and my answer was to live outside of all of these made-up rules…I’m so over it.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Yes! I saw a similar post on an insta account called the naked pastor. And I love this. Humans are so basic, trying to draw boxes and lines everywhere, pass judgement, force impressions. I think it’s a higher level of function when the dividing lines don’t really matter and we force ourselves to look at the whole, bigger picture, or the whole bigger human. Gestalting can be hard. Thanks for this reminder 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. First of all, I ran to follow “the naked pastor.” His content has been truly something that I can get into, so thanks for that!

      HUMANS ARE SO BASIC!!! Indeed. Many of us, in some way, depending on the situation, really.

      Thank you for reading and commenting. I appreciate that this resonated.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I love these thoughts. Churches and religion have been one of the biggest promoters of the either this or that thought approach. “We’ll tell you what is good or bad, and you need to follow on faith.”, but that approach neatly ignores the myriad of other choices.

    When we tell people they only have 2 choices, of of which is good and the other is bad, then people are easily manipulated into believing what they want people to believe.

    When I stepped away from the 2nd controlling church, I discovered there were so many other choices in the world, none of which was inherently good or bad, because it depends on how we choose to live it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve noticed the same thing, Tamara. I think that’s the only way the doctrine works. Even the options: heaven or hell are binary…you can either walk streets of gold in the afterlife or burn FOREVER.

      Thanks for this comment ❤

      Liked by 2 people

      1. My pleasure! Yes, I prefer to color outside of the lines and to see more than a or b!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. 🙏🏾💙 What I’ve come to know about you, Kathy, is you will speak your mind and do so accordingly to the topic at hand. You do not flinch or shrink away from where you stand, but you will entertain another person’s perspective respectfully.

    Not many people will do this. Not many people can do this. But I’m glad you share your thoughts/feelings/processing moments with us.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Hello again and a very happy 2023 to you. I totally agree with you and the twist on non-binary.
    I was once a white-or-black person in terms of how I deal with life issues. With life experiences, I’ve learned that there are often a variety of grays in between. And depending on the spectrum you’re at, and/or what side of the compass you’re standing at, you might see shades of reds, greens, and/or blues. Not having the holistic view often mislead the conclusions we form.
    I also agree with your friend and Tricia. Like Chel Owens stated, true, we can take your thoughts much farther.
    When I turned 50, my mantra became “I don’t owe anyone any explanation for what I do and why I do them the way I do.” If it’s for me, I don’t really need your permission. Harsh but true in a society that will dictate what you should have for breakfast and the time you go to bed if allowed.
    We all need to heal and self love first, within families, before we can take it to the society/world at large.
    Happy 50th in advance.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hey there! You’re right. There are soooo many gray areas in all things, if only we would stop to notice and act accordingly.

      I like that mantra, because it’s true! I’ve learned something similar; my life only has to make sense to me.

      Thank you so much for this comment. I’m glad it resonated with you ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad you understand what I’m saying here. It’s much easier just to do an either/or thing with people and experiences, but it’s just not fair to the person or the event.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I so appreciate your thoughts!! I feel like the non binary concept frees all of us from the societal expectations of who we should be, how we should act, how we should dress, how we should look, should, should, should…

    Liked by 2 people

Comments are welcomed

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s