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.Tweet
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: