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Who are you?

I know two things to be true. One is that we all have a story and two it is still being written. Depending on what life has thrown at you, the chapters written in your particular story so far have captured the evolution of yourself and the experiences you have had.

The evolution of ourselves can be looked at as both figurative and literal. From being a newborn, to now have grown into a fully developed adult, that’s physical. Not only because that's what happens to us as our chapters go on, we get bigger but to me, it’s because it can be scientifically be defined and proven that it has actually happened. Figurative evolution is tricky because it’s what the individual protagonist in the story deems to be true. For example, your decision making. Our decisions are proven out on a good or bad measurement scale and that good or bad choice comes from a much deeper place than what we give credit too.

This won’t be a critical thinking class but I want to point out that our decisions when measured as good or bad come from a calculation that isn’t finite. It’s based on morals, societal norms and as I mentioned before…ourselves. We, at the end of the day, choose what is a good decision and what is a bad decision and there’s no way to be 100% right all the time. Why? Because asking person A if this was a good or bad choice is more than likely going to be a different answer than person B, C or D is going to give when you ask them the same.

That’s the beauty in being the person you are in the story, your decisions are you own and it’s up to you to decide if they are right or wrong. Especially when it comes to who you are.

Over the last week or so, social media outlets across the country have been blowing up over the announcement of Dwanye Wade’s middle born child Zaya formerly know as Zion choosing to pursue life identifying as a girl. This has come with its own problematic issues from the statements released by hip hop influencers and highly respected members of the black community. The outcome of this announcement serves as inspiration for this post but also another example of how we still haven’t gotten this right. Thinking about the approach to this, I wanted to remove myself and my thoughts to provide a space for others to share their responses. In this, I developed five questions to ask different people in age, gender identity, sexual orientation, and current location/hometown to be genuine in answering the question of who are you? Knowing that this is sensitive to some but educational for most, I want to preface that Workin Girl agrees that everyone should live life in the way they are the happiest. The responses are from nonaffiliates of the Workin Girl entity and have been gathered for the purpose of perspective. Who are you? I am love personified with an intense depth. I am divine. I am woman. I am black. --I'm still figuring this out.” - 22 years old Washington, DC

I am a 22-year-old black woman from the small town of Norfolk VA, an aspiring businesswoman/ fashionista and woman of God who is intelligent, ambitious, and optimistic. Most importantly, loving in all aspects. Steadily trying to improve and learn more about herself every day.” - 22 years old Norfolk, VA “I am all of who I want to be and nothing of what everyone else wants me to be. I’m a son, student, brother, and world changer.” - 20 years old Atlanta, GA

“I am someone who honestly struggles with God has called me to do a lot times. Not because I can’t do it but I’m one of those people that’s scared of the potential and strength inside of them. I’m also a true lover of people and I do my best to treat people how I want to be treated. Right now I’m really focusing on God wants to me be.” - 24 years old New Orleans, LA “I am Keisha Laraee Lyons, formally known as many other aliases such as; King. I am currently a proud woman of trans experience who works as a educator of 6th grade students .” - 21 years old Dallas, TX At what age did you know who you were, based on your above answer? “Innately I always knew. However, I believe I was socialized to doubt myself. So now, I'm rediscovering what I always subconsciously knew to be true at 22.” - 22 years old Washington, DC I’m still learning who I am” - 20 years old Atlanta, GA “I don’t have an exact age because something is revealed and then I think I’m good and then something comes up out of me. I feel like I have a lot of “I didn’t know I could do that” moments. I’m still learning to this day who I am and the man God wants me to be me.” - 24 years old New Orleans, LA

“I would say my sense of self-started to develop really around middle school. I had went to a predominately white elementary school and a predominately black, urban middle school so there were a lot of times during that period where I started to put things together and understand my true self even outside of my race, gender, etc” - 22 years old Norfolk, VA

“I knew I had feminine tendency since the age of 6. The basic things like try on my mother’s heels, wigs or dancing womanly but I always had to do my woman expressions behind close doors and away from the public view. I was not able to express my gender identity until the people who were holding me back left this earth. At the age of 17, a spark of womanhood lit up my body and my slow train of womanhood finally begin to come along. There’s been several times where I have try to place my self in masculine gender spaces ( Morehouse, Barbershops, Locker rooms, Male Pageants & Campus Royalty ) and I am happy I did because it made me realize that was not for me” - 21 years old Dallas,TX At age 12 (or around middle school years) what was the hardest thing you tried to figure out or understand?

“ I would say the hardest thing for me to figure out was how/ where I fit in. Though I went to a predominately black middle school, I was in a “accelerated” program so I was still surrounded by mostly white kids in my classes and everyday interactions. Typical “Oreo”, but the black kids thought I acted too white and the white kids thought I acted too black. So I struggled making friends. And even though I didn’t know the word for it, I think I began to feel the weight of intersectionality even at this early age.” - 22 years old Norfolk,VA “TBH I had to hit my mom up about this one because I'd honestly suppressed this. However, I was trying to figure out my "place." My mom was telling me how I always experienced girls being mean to and pointing out my flaws when I was simply trying to be their friend. I was really trying to figure out what I had to do to be accepted” - 22 years old Washington,DC Why I liked boys” - 20 years old Atlanta, GA At 12, people randomly started asking me at school if I was gay. I had no idea sexuality was at that young. It got to the point of me having a lot of conversations with God about “am I really gay?” People opinions use to really way heavy on me but I knew I wasn’t gay and I just had to force people accept me or keep it pushing.” - 24 years old New Orleans, LA

Is the way you described yourself in question 1, accepted by others (including family, friends, peers/coworkers)?

“I believe it is for the most part. I acknowledge a lot of the privilege that comes with being Christian, cisgender, straight, middle/upper class. So I believe I’ve been generally looked at as “normal” by society’s standards. I haven’t experienced much rejection/discrimination from how to identify especially not from my family and friends and have only experienced most judgment based off of my race and gender from society”. - 22 years old Norfolk, VA I believe it is now. It wasn't always this way though but through pruning and pain, I'm definitely being seen as the person I'm called to be --whether it's liked or not, it's respected and understood. - 22 years old Washington, DC I’m accepted by my family & friends but the way I describe myself (Queer) is definitely not accepted by others” - 20 years old Atlanta, GA I do feel that the people I’m surrounded by family and friends truly do accept me for who I am. Now that doesn’t mean they don’t call out flaws or things I still need to work on within myself but they love and accept me regardless.” - 24 years old New Orleans, LA

In response to the inspiration of this post, most commentary surrounded around this announcement revolves around the idea that no one at 12 years old has the ability to make deep complex decisions accurately. Given that, do you believe age alone contributes to someone’s mental ability to make ‘complex’ decisions? And if you agree, at what age is someone able to make good decisions to complex issues. “Of course not. There are so many factors in addition to age that contribute to mental capacity. I don’t think you can generalize and say there is a certain age in which someone can make decisions without flaw. You can be 20, 50, 80 still making bad decisions. You can be 10 and make a great decision. And certain decisions, especially personal ones are subjective so who is anyone to say whether it’s flawed or not. Again, because there are so many different factors besides age that allows one to be able to make decisions, it is on a case by case based (and people need to keep their opinions to themselves when the decision doesn’t concern them 🙂)” - 22 years old Norfolk, VA “Mental capacity as a whole, no it does not but because "science," says that the brain isn't fully developed until 25, age does play a part. I know that in some cultures children enter into adulthood before 25 and it primarily has to do with spiritual wisdom that has been taught and gifted to them. To me, it boils down to socialization. Everyone was born with certain innate abilities and qualities, some are nurtured by those who are bestowed to care for them and others may take longer to discover those abilities. Nonetheless, it does not take away from the fact that wisdom is ageless anyone can have it. I also do not believe there's any age where a person can make complex decisions without flaw, because we're imperfect humans and that would be to assume or imply perfection that cannot be [yet]. I could go a lot further into this but this topic is more nuanced that age.” - 22 years old Washington, DC “No, I don’t agree. I feel as though your identity is something you’re aware of as soon as you can articulate yourself” - 20 years old Atlanta, GA

“I think it is situational. There are some 12-year-olds out in the world that are probably more mature than I am because they environment/life circumstances has exposed them to some things early and forced them to mature faster and you have some 12 year olds that are legit just an immature 12 year old. I think it just all depends but D Wade has really taken the time to have conversations with his daughter and spend time with her. He seems like a parent who would stop this if he thought it was just an immature middle decision.” - 24 years old New Orleans, LA In the journey of workin on ourselves, we have to be honest and ready to stand in our truth no matter what waits for us on the other side. I hope this post is a reminder that you have the ability to make your own choices and decide based on morals, religion or straight up gut feeling that it is the best for you and only you. Live for yourself each day and as happy as you can. Of course being your authentic self. I commend those who are still in the limbo of figuring out their own answer to the question "who are you" because it is not an easy task. And to those who have it figured out, don't stop there. Keep evolving because your purpose is stretched beyond your current position. (oooooh what a word for a Faith Friday). THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for 200+ followers on Instagram and tune in to this week's blog. Share, comment and tell me what you think!

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