“I don’t feel very attached to my nationality as an American. I think it’s arbitrary, it’s made up. We were born there, we were given a passport, and that’s it. Of course, you’re often raised where you were born, so you inherit certain cultural norms and language which help form you, but that wasn’t your choosing. I think later on it becomes your choice to change that and explore other ways of being.
I grew up in a conservative Christian family. I was born in that way, and I was raised in that way for a number of years. Then there was a point when I was still committed but I began having doubts. I started meeting people from the LGBTQ community, and my church was telling me that they were wrong. That they didn’t deserve love and they didn’t deserve marriage.
I used to stick up for the LGBTQ community by saying “they” deserve love, “they” deserve to have a partner. But I think I was subconsciously trying to stick up for the feelings I had within myself. There were monsters of self-hatred and self-denial that had formed through my experiences and education growing up. I needed to break those down before I could even think about having relationships with other people.
Something that was quite pivotal in my life was accepting my sexuality, accepting that I wasn’t fully straight, like the way the church raised me to be…
I was programmed in America to fear the Middle East and Arabic. I remember when I was a teenager and I heard Arabic on a New York subway for the first time. I felt a real, visceral fear inside of me. But when I noticed that, I felt terrible and questioned what I was feeling. This is a language, why am I so afraid? He was wearing all white, suggesting he’d just come from a Mosque, but that image, that sound, was programmed to mean terrorist. I have learned to question “why” whenever I feel fear. I’ve learned to ask myself if I’m really in danger.
Last year, I spent three months in Palestine volunteering on farms and teaching English. Mostly I was just listening to them and trying to spread their stories. If I’d listened to everything I’d been told about Palestine, I may have been afraid to ever visit. But thankfully I did meet them. I saw their eyes, I was fed by them. I was treated so lovingly.
I guess I have a lot of trust in humanity, or at least in the human spirit. I know that there are bad people, but there are a hell of a lot of good people everywhere throughout the entire world. And I want to see that beauty and I want to find it. I’m not afraid, maybe because of the deeply negative experiences I’ve felt in my life.”
I’m not afraid of feeling fear and feeling anger. I think that’s what makes the richness of emotion. If we just had joy, beauty, flowers and cute aprons, then it wouldn’t be as rich of a life that we live. We wouldn’t value these things as much if we didn’t have anger and fear.
Follow Jules on Instagram to see the rest of her journey unfold.
About 500 Coffees ☕️
I'm on a mission to get coffee with 500 strangers from all over the world. I want to speak to humans everywhere about their lives and how they experience the world. And cafes are the perfect place for this. Comfortable, cosy, illuminated with a cacophony of other human voices.
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