Life Outside Social Media

Nothing is Binary

     I’m currently taking this captivating public health course called Diversity and Ethics in the History of the Biosciences, which primarily focuses on dissecting some of the major dichotomies that define societal expectations and norms in the field of biology. In a broader sense, the material intends to diminish the binary that exists between biology and society, or in more common terms, nature vs. nurture. While I’ve been deeply invested in all the readings I’ve done in the mere two weeks that I’ve taken this course, I won’t be discussing the fascinating things I’ve learned just yet (at least not in this post) because I’m still trying to fully comprehend all the heavy social implications involved in the history of medicine. What I am going to talk about though is how this concept of binary applies to and controls the two fundamental aspects of my being. 

     Half of me is a realist who dwells in practicality, rationality, and objectivity – a side of my character that’s drawn to the clear-cut facts of medical science for the conviction that it guarantees. This voice of reason is what constantly tells me whether what I’m doing is right or wrong and nothing in between; a voice that rejects the irrational expectations and pursuits of human connection. It’s a defining fragment of who I am as an individual, and it’s what most people tend to observe because I express it quite openly. 

     Then my other half is a writer who recognizes that these “substantiated” facts are essentially shaped by complex human experiences coming from a place of subjectivity and unique contexts. Society often sees it as disorderly because it involves perpetual uncertainties and unquantifiable variables such as vulnerability, but it’s the fragment that makes me human, and it truly baffles me that it took me this long to realize that I need to express this side much more freely and unapologetically. 

     Here’s a powerful message that especially resonated with me during lecture: certainty represses all uncertainty – we were conditioned to perceive this binary system as an absolute certainty, which in turn instilled a fixed mindset that we have to belong to one category or the other and nothing else. Binaries confine us to society’s pre-constructed values, ideologies, and standards, thus suppressing the beauty of the unknown that is uncertainty. I think part of why we struggle so much to find ourselves is that we’re built into this system that compels us to fit into a “black-or-white,” “either-or” category, as if we’re not multi-dimensional beings that actually fall into a wide and convoluted spectrum of undiscovered wonders. 

     My workspace is seamlessly organized but my mind surely isn’t; there’s a tiny bit of extrovert in my intensely introverted soul; I value the technicality in science but also the fluidity in the arts and the humanities; and behind the realist in me lies an optimist who believes in the irrationality of love. I’ve spent years trying to figure out how to separate these discrepancies to determine which side to identify with, but now I realize that I won’t be whole in the absence of the other. 

     Maybe it's time to embrace being a walking contradiction because letting your differences coincide means that you accept every piece of who you are. 

Saturday, April 15, 2017