“You look just like your <insert family member here>,” a well-meaning family member says, smiling. I force a smile of my own and take a deep breath to prevent the groan forming in my body from escaping. The sarcastic reply dies on my lips as the deeply instilled sense of respect for those older than me takes over. I keep my mouth shut and smile.
Like many Portuguese kids it took me many years to find my sense of identity that wasn’t rooted as the child of my parents. It took many years before I acknowledged me as my own person closely tied to my sense of worth as an individual capable of making my own decisions and having my own opinions.
Much of this has shaped the life I’ve built and the steps I’ve taken – foot, or other – to create it, which has taken me along interesting and mostly unimagined paths.
Identity is a theme that plays itself out in my life, almost daily, and independence is one of the values that support it. I’m still the child of my parents. Part of my identity is still rooted in the Portuguese culture. The only difference is that I am me and I know that the only person I look like is me.
I know and accept that I still get triggered by being compared to others. I try to understand the intention behind the comparison, and one day it will not longer matter. For now I will prevent the groan from escaping and the sarcastic remark from leaving my lips. For now it’s a work in progress.