Life is all about struggle. Nobody gets out of this life unscathed. Some of us struggle more than others, but struggle is part and parcel of the human experience. Struggle is both personal and political. I have faced personal struggles and been involved with political struggle. I will write briefly about both types of struggles in this blog entry.
Struggle is defined as to proceed with difficulty or with great effort. Life has thrown many struggles my away. Being transgender has been a struggle. Having depression has been a struggle. Being a person of size has been a struggle. Having multiple chronic illnesses and disabilities has been a struggle. Being a first generation student has been a struggle. Being economically-challenged has been a struggle. And many other things as well have been a struggle. Sometimes people talk about struggle in almost noble terms. It makes you stronger and tougher! It grows character! God doesn’t give you more than you can handle! Before I can get to anything remotely positive about struggle, I have to talk about pain. Struggle means for us physical, mental, emotional, psychological and spiritual pain and suffering. There is no way around that reality. And pain hurts. It injures us. It leaves scars. Sometimes it makes us wonder if we are even going to survive. I have zero interest in romanticizing struggle. All things being equal, most days I don’t want to struggle. I don’t have the energy or the wherewithal to do it. I get exhausted from life throwing me curveballs and from being so different in a world that desires cookie-cutter people. I scream to the world to take away my struggle, to take away the struggle from my friends and kin and from even people that I do not know. Struggle hurts.
If I were to look at any “positives” of struggle what I would say is that I would not be who I am today without the journey I have traveled thus far. Struggles have indeed made me who I am and helped to define the person that I have become. Because of the oppression I have faced I have become an activist, a change agent and a transgender warrior. I don’t know if I would make the generalization that struggle builds character. It certainly has an effect on a human being, but that effect can vary dramatically. How many people have been all but destroyed by the countless struggles they have faced in life? How many of us teeter on a tightrope between strength and total despair? Personal struggles cannot be easily defined and don’t have uniforms effects. I will say that they have made me more determined and able to see life as a battle that is worth fighting for.
Political struggle is also hard. We are fighting an uphill battle. We are swimming against the stream of mainstream society. We are running backwards on the moving sidewalk. It is exhausting and depleting. We are fighting for things we should not even have to be struggling over. If the world was a place of fairness, justice and generosity, we wouldn’t have to fight as hard as we do for basic civil and human rights. With that said, political struggle is spell-bounding. It is dazzling and exhilarating. It gives one a profound sense of purpose, empowerment and responsibility. There is indeed nothing so noble as to leave the world in a better place when you leave it then when you entered it. Political struggle can be lonely but it can also be highly sociable as you find comrades to work together with in mutual struggle. Personal struggle seems like an unfortunate reality that humans must deal with constantly. Political struggle is entered into by choice. Most Americans are pretty apathetic. Thus those of us engaged in political struggle are special because we actively choose to change the world. Struggle means so many different things to so many different people. The struggle continues…Yours in struggle, J