An Open Letter to the Family I’ve Probably Disappointed

I’ve changed over the years. I went through my emo/goth phase in middle school, I tried to be cool in high school (and kind of succeeded in the non-conventional way); I’ve changed my name, my hair; I’ve altered my body and opened my mind to different outlooks. I’ve been quiet and I’ve been expressive. Looking back at myself as a child, I don’t know if I–or anyone–could predict my outcome as the young adult I am today. Yeah, I was a sassy lil’ bitch then (nothing’s changed), but I know I’ve adopted viewpoints and an opinionated, change-oriented attitude that 90% of my family doesn’t agree with. This is for you, fam.

This is for the people that knew me as Emilia, that knew me as the blonde-haired, occasionally blue-eyed little sprout that cried when she fell, was terrified of needles and wanted to be a ballerina. Those times are gone and I’ve developed into myself.

Now I’m Mia,  an unnaturally blonde-haired, mainly green-eyed grown girl who played roller derby, has tattoos and doesn’t know what the fuck she wants to do with her life anymore.

I know my blog posts probably offend you. I know my views have led you to unfriend me, look at me weirdly at family gatherings, lead you to call me the “opinionated one.”

But I’d rather be the opinionated one than the quiet one. And, well, I’ve never wanted to be the quiet one.

I know I’ve probably lost the respect of people I’ve looked up to since I was a child, and don’t you think that I don’t think about this with every blog post I write and publish. I think of all the people I know who could read my posts and their various reactions. I know I’m different. I know I’m not the lady you might have wanted or expected.

But I’m intelligent: I’m at one of the best public universities in the country. I’m passionate: I want people to understand the importance of equality and love for all. I’m still loving: this has never changed.

Yeah, I have tattoos. Yeah, I’m a Liberal Feminist. Yeah, I don’t believe in God. Yeah, yeah. But I’m still me. I know when to say “yes ma’am” and “no sir.” I know how to graciously thank someone and politely turn something down. I know all the proper etiquette of a Southern lady and, hell, I can implement that in a split second. But because I choose to be my own self, my own different and eclectic self, does not mean that I do not care.

Because I do care. I care a lot about you, about people and–believe it or not–I care about people’s opinions of me, of your opinions of me. I’ve just learned to not let other people’s opinions affect the way I live. I’ve seen first hand how this turns people’s lives around, making them someone they’re not, and I refuse to be a shadow of myself.

I understand that you opinions of me may not be what they used to be, but I’m also no longer eight years old. The way I live and what I believe in defines me as a person and is what makes me truly unique from every other human being in the world, and this applies for you too.

So, here’s what I ask. I just ask a few simple things of you so we can better get along.

Don’t call my opinions “interesting,” call my opinions “valid.”

I was introduced to someone recently has having “very……….interesting opinions.” No, my opinions are not interesting. They’re not crazy. They’re valid, they’re sound, they’re strong. Don’t make my opinions seem invalid or unreasonable. If you want to define me solely by my opinions (refer to the next point), at least give them a better adjective that shines in a brighter light.

Don’t introduce me as the girl who “is very opinionated.”

I know I’m opinionated and thanks for thinking of me that way, but don’t introduce me as opinionated to someone I don’t know. I’m not just filled to the brim with opinions. I’m artistic, I love learning, I enjoy good music. Please don’t give people’s first impression of me as “opinionated” with a slight frown on your face.

Don’t speak to me like I’m a delicate child about to burst.

I’m perfectly fine living in my own “lifestyle.” I’m not going to explode with anger if you actually speak to me like any other normal adult. Don’t ask me if I’m okay with a sweet, soothing, concerned tone in your voice every time we meet. Instead, genuinely ask me how I’ve been and what I’ve been up to, I’d much rather talk about my current self than reassure you that I’m doing “just fine.”

Don’t label me as the “failure” child.

It’s true: my younger sister is much sweeter and quieter than me, it’s always been that way. But this doesn’t mean that I’m a failure compared to her. We’re both equally established in our own ways and comparing us in a negative context only promotes sibling competition and woman-on-woman hate. Try to just look at our success in life, my attendance at UNC-Chapel Hill, her advancements with North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. Applaud us both for being successful in our own ways. Just because you may perceive her as more “polite” and more similarly identify with your views, doesn’t make me the bad egg.

Don’t talk shit about me when I’m not around.

I don’t talk badly about you, so please don’t speak badly of me. It is more than noticeable when you’ve been speaking about to me other family members in a less-than-positive light and it makes thing super awkward for me, making me want to avoid family gatherings. It also causes me to lose complete and total respect for you. Find better things about me to talk about when together instead of the things you don’t like (which I know are plenty). Just because you don’t agree with something, doesn’t give you the right to be rude about it.

Also, don’t tell me to stop cussing.

I watch my mouth around you, so telling me that my cussing on my blog is “unattractive” or “poorly used” is not my problem. If it’s a problem for you, just quit reading my blog. It would probably solve most of your problems with me (and my opinions) anyway. Just avoid my blog and be thankful that I know how to present myself to you in person.

I’m no longer a child and I don’t know how evident that is to you. Growing up in the South can be a challenge for a gal like me. I’m not what my world wants from me. I’m no “lady,” but–then again–I strongly believe the term (and meaning behind) “lady” is sexist. I don’t keep my opinions in the dark like most people, because I want to express them, allowing others to think and consider new things. This blog isn’t a diary, it’s a platform to open up new roads of thought for other people.

So, please, please don’t dismiss me, my blog and my views as irrelevant. Please don’t label me as the sour child. Please stop looking at me like I’m going to Hell (and, on that note, please quit dropping hints that I need to go to church to repent). Please don’t think you can’t associate with me because our opinions differ.

Because I would never think this way about you. My heart is still open and, though we are different, I still want you in my life. If you’re going to be an ass, though, consider yourself not a part of it.

 

 

 

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One thought on “An Open Letter to the Family I’ve Probably Disappointed

  1. My dear Mia,I am so sorry that people,family,friends,etc. have been so mean to you.It breaks my heart to read these words and to feel and hear the pain you have experienced from the people that should support and love you and respect you,and they should be proud of all of your massive accomplishments at such a young age. Well,I truly apologize for them since they are too ignorant and self absorbed and insecure to step up to a mirror and check their own selves and see the harm they have caused by mistreating you,and truly for no good reason. I love you,I love the person that is so caring and kind and appreciative and respectful every time I have ever been around you. I love that you are your own person with your own desires,dreams,successes ,accomplishments,insights,and goals.No I did not mention opinionated.To me,everyone is opinionated,aren’t they? Anyone that thinks otherwise might consider how they act and what they do and say.I guarantee that at some point all of us have been opinionated,I know of no one,including myself,who isn’t opinionated.So what?When that is considered something that should be hidden or glorified to describe a person it is ,to me,a pathetic attempt to change or cover up how and who a person really is. Mia,please know that if I have ever offended or hurt you in any way at all,I am truly sorry and I beg your forgiveness.I am honored to know you and you are very dear to me for many reasons,but mainly because you have always been good to me.You are a loving and precious soul and I do not care what you believe or what you do or represent,as long as you do no intended harm-and I know that you do not. I do and will always support you,respect you,and love you.With that,I am so very proud of you and how you have made your path in this world that makes you happy.I wish for you only true happiness,true friendships,true loves in your life,and the wisdom and guidance for you to know that you deserve to be treated&respected by anyone around you like the amazing woman you are.I will always be one of your biggest fans,and you can count on that! Thank you for the blessing that you are to me,and to this amazing world! Kim Arnold

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