“I am not my upbringing”

I’m 30 years old; I’ve survived, persevered beyond, and recovered from a laundry list of traumas and challenges throughout my life: a decade-long eating disorder, sexual molestation, date rape, my younger brother’s death, countless other deaths of close loved ones, depression, self-harm and myriad other crises. Yet, as a life-long and now professional writer, performer, and advocate, I’ve never hidden these realities. It is literally my job to share and tell the intricacies of these pains, as I share my story to let others know they’re not alone.

When it comes to insecurities, those that I’ve confronted on the inside feel easy. The internal feelings are that which I’m most willing to shed and allow to surface to the outermost layers of my skin. It is that which lays on the surface over which I am most insecure, namely my privileged upbringing.

I have spent many years unpacking my white privilege, my heterosexual privilege, my upper-middle class upbringing, my educational privilege, and other ways in which I have benefited from my various social identities. Sure, I’m a woman. Yes, I’m a Jew. As I mentioned, I’ve experienced myriad traumas, some related to these identities. But still, my privilege all too often overrides much of the sexism and anti-Semitism, while still vast and painful, that I have experienced throughout my life.

For years, I wore my very serious traumas on my sleeve thinking they might mask my privilege, especially through my spoken word poetry. I thought these traumas might somehow legitimize my compassion for others and the social justice causes for which I deeply care and to which I am committed. I shied away from writing poetry about the affluent white suburb in which I was raised in hopes that poems about my brother’s death, or being raped, or having had an eating disorder might strengthen my case as a tortured soul. It took me years to realize that all of my story and stories matter. These days, I push myself as both an artist and individual when sharing my narrative.

I’m not sure how serious of an insecurity my “upbringing” really is at this point, but being that I’m such a wide open book for that which lives within, I’m eager to allow myself to equally share the experiences of that which lives on the outside.