After successfully battling ovarian cancer for the second time and sharing her journey on PEOPLE.com, Diem Brown is back to blogging. This time around, she will not only share updates on her own life, but about competing on her new show, MTV’s The Challenge: Rivals II.
Who defines you?
Sex, religion, race, age, political affiliation … check one. As a society we are put into one classification box or another from the moment we are born. From that point on, we are more or less programmed to continue to put ourselves into additional classification boxes and groups as we maneuver through life.
More often than not, I think we all want to be a part of some sort of group. Being part of a group means you get to share a common interest or experience so it’s often that much easier to relate to one another.
A fast icebreaker; “Oh you went to FSU too? How much do you miss Pokey Sticks?” or “You had ovarian cancer? How crazy did your mood swings get on chemo?” Finding a similar thread makes us feel comfortable and in some instances, make us feel more normal.
During my first bout with cancer, I hated being referred to as “that cancer girl on MTV.” I detested being defined by that word – I wasn’t willing to be put into that “cancer” box.
However, with time comes clarity and after my second diagnosis, I embraced the “cancer girl” box because I realized a label is just a label, because no one can define you but you. I transformed my view of that title from something I saw as baggage to something that evoked power inside me.
More Than Meets the Eye
I may forever be seen as “that cancer girl” but I also know I’m a fighter, a patient advocate, an entrepreneur and an insanely crazy dancer, to name a few of my favorite boxes.
Which leads me to this week’s episode of Rivals II on MTV which I particularly liked because such a powerful message seeped through. Trischelle, confused as to what Aneesa’s background was, started throwing out various classifications of her: “black, white, Jewish … she claims she is everything.”
Of course, this struck an emotional chord in Aneesa and I can understand why. Listening to Trischelle sounded like a dig at who Aneesa is or is not. Aneesa is on a journey to explore who she is and she shouldn’t have to explain or defend her definition of herself to anyone. I love my partner and respect whatever box or boxes she checks!
That’s the beauty of how you define yourself – it can always evolve and change as you grow and change. You get to define yourself in whatever way you like – nothing has to be set in stone. Ever. You are the only one that knows and can change your definitions of you.
Then there is Marlon, a former Division I athlete, who also happens to be bisexual. I admit I was shocked when I first learned of Marlon’s sexual preference because he didn’t fit the mold of how society often envisions a bisexual man.
He says he isn’t gay, he is bisexual. This is how he has chosen to define himself; however others seem to have a hard time accepting his definition because in their minds it’s black or white … gay or straight.
Personally, I find Marlon to be extremely intriguing and I applaud his openness as he too is exploring who he is and defining himself in a way he feels true.
Think Outside the Box
When we meet someone for the first time, our brain immediately wants to figure out who that person is and as much as the obvious categories that a person falls into can give us some insight to their background or beliefs. A group or a classification obviously can’t define a person outright.
You are more than what your job title is; you are more than your race, religion, or political affiliation. You are more than whatever hardship you may have concurred or are currently facing. These obstacles add patterns to the fabric of your character but it’s not always the whole picture.
Don’t let a hardship define you, don’t let a circumstance, age, sex, race or even your past define you. In this life you get to dictate who you are and who you want to be both inside and outside of all society’s boxes!
Relive Diem’s Emotional Journey on PEOPLE.com: