Barbara Sueko McGuire

 Photo courtesy of David Gabe Photography

Photo courtesy of David Gabe Photography

There’s a throwaway moment from my 20s that nearly 15 years later still hasn’t made it to the dustbin of my memory. A friend was trying to point someone out to me and I couldn’t tell whom she was talking about because I didn’t notice the race of that person then, and I don’t remember it now. 

“That’s weird,” she said. “You don’t see people by color.” 

The whole truth isn’t as simple as that—I do see race, but just not first. In the same vein, when it comes to empowerment, I do see gender, just not first. Each day I aim simply to feel as if I have agency over my life as a human, not as a woman. But of course it’s one in the same by nature of my nature. 

My struggles are far from unique and yet are uniquely female. I fight to avoid definition by a history of sexual assault. I strive for freedom from the need to please others. I confront the challenge of wondering what people think of me, of hoping everyone likes me. I battle with my body and what I put into it and what I ask it to do for me. I worry about my active and privileged choice to be a waitress with a higher education. I question what it means to be single and childless at 35. 

I think and I think and I think, about everything. Nothing is simple and yet still I breathe. I sit in my discomfort and remind myself I need not solve any of these riddles. This is not the life I’ve been given but the life I choose to live. My destiny is my own making and I don’t have any specific plans about how to get to the end, and most days that’s power enough for me.

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Writer, EditorCasha Doemland