What defines you?

I totally took some quizzes on Pottermore (I love Harry Potter, lay off me) in hopes that they would tell me who I am. And they did, in part. I learned that I could define myself by a number of easily digestible, one-dimensional traits, like intelligence or loyalty.

It’d be so much easier if a quiz could just tell me who I am because then I wouldn’t have to think about it. Sometimes it’s hard to make sense of everything about yourself. If you’re like me, you know you’re a hot mess of complex emotions. But even the most level-headed of people can experience conflicting sides and wonder, who am I really? How do I “categorize” myself? If you let go of every identifier you have--your race, your gender, your sexuality--what would be left? Do you know?

In the midst of the chaos that surrounds us currently, I think these are critically important question to reflect on. The color of our skin should never divide us; but it does. So who are we? Are we so simple and one-dimensional that an online quiz can churn out answers for us in less than a minute? Is it really as straightforward as categorizing people as a privileged white person or an angry black person?

No. Of course not. In God’s great humor and wisdom, this seemingly violent sport has taught me so much about unity and respect.

Since beginning kickboxing, my friend group has both grown and diversified in the most wonderful of ways. We all have different stories, different skin colors, different sexualities, different income levels, different levels of experience, different ways of learning, different senses of humor. But what we share is respect. A deep, unifying level of respect that says, “I don’t care what you are, I see who you are. And you’re just like me.”

By respecting our differences, we are able to come together as people just trying to make ourselves and our situations in life better. We’re able to support each other, without judgment, to reach our diverse goals. We share our drive, courage, humility, discipline, joy, pain, determination and vulnerability with each other every single day. We share our humanity and see ourselves in each other. We know what it takes to step into a ring and fight. Fighting breaks you down to who you are at your core, and when that happens, you see--we’re not different at all.

It's important to understand that the things that truly define us are not the things that make us different. Our differences allow for discussion and growth and a chance to understand the complexity of our shared world. Don't define yourself or others simply by our visible differences. Our nation currently functions under the influence of oppression and fear, bred from a history of racism, sexism and general bigotry. Be human enough to understand that, when all is striped away, we feel the same. We fight the same. We are the same. We must never stop working to make the intangible qualities that we share as human beings the true lens through which we define ourselves and our peers. 

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