Adventure is for everyone... and so is Magic Mike.
Just ask my friend Kim.
She came to the movie because it was the only way we could hang out while she was in town. The town being New York City, of course that's not entirely true. We could have gone to a broadway show, or a coffee cupping, or a tour of the Stock Exchange. But none of those events involved Channing Tatum, which was a required element for any of my social interactions at the time.
I was committed to spreading the Gospel of Channing-a message of men with big arms who can really dance and "oh my god, he's funny too?!?!" (Please see 21 Jump Street.) But all of this was lost on Kim, who sat mortified as I and a hundred or so gay men hooted and hollered to Channing's thrilling interpretation of "Pony" by Ginuwine. Amen.
I don't feel that bad about it. 1) Kim made me try Bubble Tea that day- which would be super refreshing, if the thousand black gelatin beetles at the bottom were a little easier to swallow. And 2) She did walk away from the movie with a very positive view of adult dance crews. We should get one going immediately and call ourselves "Mixed Emotions", in reference to our biracial backgrounds. With a name like that, how could I say no?
While our hair challenges are different, (Kim is Chinese and White. I am Black and White. We'll never be able to share hair product.), all biracial people can come together around The Question. I bet you Olivia Munn gets it everyday on the set of The Newsroom. Someone asked Derek Jeter at a Little League game. And President Obama got so sick of everyone asking him, he wrote a book about it.
“Soooo, what are you?”
In my case, it is almost always asked out of pure, benign curiosity. No harm intended. But the fact that people are so curious about it, they feel compelled to ask a stranger their personal history is still amazing to me.
When I was younger, it was completely embarrassing. Imagine being a chubby high schooler and being singled out like that. "You! I can't figure you out.. but you're odd! You're just a little different than everybody else here. What are you?!"
No matter what my answer was, it was never sufficient. So many expectations are laid on biracial people to be tortured, or righteous, or misunderstood, or "caught in between". All of which I have experienced. But most of the time, I was just a regular kid who liked watching Ducktales while shoving cookies in my mouth.
The fact that I still think this sounds like a good time at 37 makes me a not so regular adult. As does a host of other personality quirks, which make the question "So what are you?" still pretty valid to ask of me, but...
..isn't it valid for everyone?
A biracial background is not required to be misunderstood. Your hair might be manageable, but your everyday life might be incomprehensible to others, even yourself. (How often have you thought, "how in the hell did I get here?" or "Is this all there is?") If a stranger took the time to ask you what you were, you wouldn't know where to start...
But they don't.
And that's a shame.
The Question that felt like a curse as an unhappy teenager, became a blessing as I got older. After college, I used it as angry motivation to establish a life that was easily digestible for anyone on the outside. I goal'd the hell out of my late 20s to get in shape, pay the bills, and snag a boyfriend. I established a grown-up foundation from which to function in society. It also got everyone off my freaking jock for a little while about what I was so I could just be.
But that time was also superficial, stressful, and limited. I had a good life by design, but not one that really reflected who I was or what I believed in. No spontaneity, variety, no fun, no meaningful connection. At 34, I felt purposeless and alone. I would have loved for someone, anyone to ask me the question again...but I got rid of them a long time ago. So the only person left to ask was myself.
What the hell am I?
Curiosity + Enthusiasm = Adventure
If you accept that as the formula to adventure, "So What are You?" is the problem to be solved. My life changed when I stopped approaching The Question with irritation and anxiety, and instead met it head on with curiosity and enthusiasm. I brought it forward and made a commitment to explore every single avenue that looked even 50% interesting. If after I took a few steps down that road, I was still digging it...I just kept going. I had absolutely no idea it would lead me to Ninety Mile beach in New Zealand in the ugliest, most comfortable pair of jeans I ever owned. Adventures are surprising like that.
So if you are interested in starting your adventure, the first step is getting super real about that question. Right now, at this moment... where you're sitting or standing..is this all you are? Will you only do this? Do you feel a part of the world around you?
If not, fix that. Now.
Consistent and focused work with this formula will lead you to creative, innovative and practical solutions for a more adventurous life.
This does not mean you will end up in New Zealand if you don't want to. It just may mean you finally sign up for that baking class. Or you french that guy sitting next to you on the train. Or you move to Philadelphia next week... Who fucking knows?
Or it could even be that sleeper hit; you make a new friend. (When was the last time you did that? BRAND new?) Once you start taking The Question seriously, you're going to have to make it public soon. There will be a moment when you cut through the generic chit chat you have with a casual acquaintance and say something like..
“Listen, I’m thinking about doing something totally weird. I’m so scared, but I think it could be AWESOME. But probably a disaster. Do you think I'm crazy?”
And she'll be like, "Hell no! do it..who cares?!"
If you find that you're to scared to ask yourself the question, afraid of adventure...well, I'm asking you now.
What are you?
I push because I know it's worth it, and I promise you are not alone.
In fact, Kim and I have started an adult dance crew open to anyone filled with these "Mixed Emotions". The choreography is easy to learn, but challenging to execute. We host a Channing Tatum movie night once a month. Bubble Tea will be served.
Please join us.