I am Lauren: a woman, a girl, a daughter, a sister, a wife, an aunt, a Latina, a white girl, an MDA patient, a licensed vet tech, a writer, and so much more; but first and foremost, I am a human being.
From the beginning I have always defied the labels that were put upon me. I was labeled as an MDA patient who would never learn to walk. But I did. It was later than the average child, but I learned to walk.
I defy all racial labels. All of them apply, and yet none of them apply. My mother comes from Irish, Czech and Hungary descent. My father was Puerto Rican with roots from Africa, Europe and Indigenous people. I’ve been too white to be Hispanic and too Hispanic to be white. But why bother? Does the color of my skin truly define me as a person?
I am a female. There was a tremendous dichotomy in home regarding my gender. My father was of the belief that girls are unimportant. Since we do not carry on the family name, we are not equal with our male counter-parts. My father told me I would never amount to anything and that it was foolish of me to have any hopes and dreams. Counter that with my mother and her parents who loved, encouraged and supported me. They told me not to give up on my dreams. They taught me that I was far greater than my gender.
My life has brought me many triumphs and tragedies. I know what it means to survive rape and abuse. I know what it’s like to live in complete abundance and what it’s like to stay in women’s shelters. I have come so close to death that I could actually touch it. I have also literally touched butterflies and been renewed.
If you were to look past my short stature and buzzed hair, what would you see?
You would see someone who is still in touch with her inner-child. An adult who believes in the power of unicorns and rainbows. A dreamer. Someone who still finds magic and wonder in this often dark world of ours. But I believe in it because I have seen it. I have seen miracles, I have seen kindness and compassion, I have seen beauty, I have seen the amazing.
You would see someone who is scared and insecure. Someone who strives for quiet, peace and tranquility. Someone who tries not to hurt others, but who has been hurt an infinite number of times. Someone whose heart is scarred, but continues to beat anyway.
You would see a writer and creative soul. Someone who finds joy and serenity in creating, in making, and in being. Someone who sees the world as giant palate from which she can draw inspiration. Someone who sees her own body as a canvas on which she places meaningful art.
You would see a gentle soul. Someone who respects all flora and fauna as living beings with which we coexist. Someone who tries her hardest to be kind, gentle and forgiving of others because she needs compassion and forgiveness herself.
You would see a survivor. Someone who has seen and experienced the worst in others. Someone who has been raped and abused and pushed around. Someone who has been told no and knocked down countless times. But she continues to get up every time, and says, “yes I can.”
You would find a giver. Someone who loves to help out and bless others. A person who would gladly give you her time and energy. Someone who gives you her best daily. Sometimes it’s great, sometimes it’s not, but you always get her best regardless.
You would see someone who is outgoing and enjoys the company of others, yet who also longs for solitude. Someone who sees blessings in interactions and in silence. Someone who craves a balance in life.
You would see someone who is color blind. Someone who sees past the surface to see deeper into the hearts of people. Someone who does not judge based on appearance because she does not want to be judged.
Growing up near a major metropolis, I had friends of every color and religion. I heard multiple languages being spoken in the hallways. When you are surrounded by people of all sorts, you see them as just that…people.
I have experienced the full gamut of emotions. I have felt not only my own pain, but the pain of others. In the end, isn’t that what connects us? Our emotions, our humanity.
In Act III, Scene 1 of The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare says it best. “There is more difference between thy flesh and hers than between jet and ivory; more between your bloods than there is between red wine and rhenish.” (Salarino). “Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that.” (Shylock).
Can anyone prove him wrong? We all bleed, we all eat, we all love, we all feel. We are all human.
Labels only serve to limit ourselves. They squish us into these very narrow, very defining boxes. If we do not fit into these boxes perfectly, we are outcast. Why? It is fear and envy that hold us back. We are afraid of the unfamiliar. We envy those people who choose to live their lives without specific definition. We want to be bold, but we choose to live in the shadows of fear instead.
We need fear nothing. That stranger who just walked past you feels the same joy and pain that you do. Your boss understands love just as well as you do. Color, sexuality, gender identification are only on the surface. We are all so much deeper than that. Just like an iceberg where you only see about 10% above the surface, so are we 90% deeper than our surface. Those colors, those labels only show us a fraction of who we all really.
As a writer, I make it my personal goal to shatter stereotypes with my work. My stories include interracial relationship, heterosexual and homosexual marriages, friendships, family relationships…all interactions with other people regardless of color, gender, religion or otherwise. My books are “stories of love without boundaries.” Because, isn’t that really true? Love doesn’t care what color you are, how tall you are, what you believe and don’t believe. Love is the quintessential connection between us all. I know that my wife does not see me as just a Latina, nor do I see her as just a Caucasian. She is so much more than that. We all are.
Love breaks down the barriers for us all. It works through all of us on a small scale, but if we can forget our fears and jealousies, it can bring us all together and create the ultimate human experience. Go. Go be love and be loved.
What is The Human Experience? It is the validity in your story and the story of 7,000,000,000 other people in this world. How do you put a label on being human? You don’t. You open your heart and listen. This is the foundation of our publication, The Human Experience, and we want to hear your story. Join us in spreading the diversity of the human experience with the world by sharing your story.