Each month we ask our readers to respond to a question. For February we asked: What story have you believed and what if you were wrong about that?
Revising the Jan Brady Syndrome
I used to have what I call the Jan Brady Syndrome, a condition wherein I, as the second daughter, was constantly being compared to my older, prettier and more well-mannered sister.
I was sure this was not my own imagination as I spent the majority of my youth listening to people rattle off a list of my grievances: being fat, short-tempered, a bookworm, acting "too white." The list continues.
I eventually embraced this black sheep persona and carved out a world where I got to be the protagonist. Nowadays, I'm often asked how it was possible that I became an artist when so many people of my background-poor, first-generation refugees-valued more practical professions. The answer lies in being the second daughter. People like my older sister were constantly under the watchful eyes of others whereas I, the black sheep, was easy to dismiss. Thus, I ironically had the privilege to pursue my life-unnoticed and uncensored.
For over 15 years I've told myself the same story: I am the underdog fighting for her voice. It never occurred to me that there were perks to being a wallflower that, along that journey, my voice had been found. May Lee-Yang, St. Paul, www.lazyhmongwoman.com
The myth I made up
In the '70s I discovered Gloria Steinem and Ms. magazine. In focus groups we shared "click" moments of sudden realization that something was wrong with the picture that we women were trying to live in-instead of with us.
We believed the Equal Rights Amendment would pass, and that soon high heels would be scorned like foot binding. I was convinced women would insist on gender equity and would value themselves as individuals rather than as sex objects.
My great-grandmother married at 16. My grandmother spent the first third of her life unable to vote. My mother hoped my career would be to marry a minister. Those things don't happen anymore. But my fairy tale hasn't come true either. Orick Peterson, Northfield, Minn.
Send us your thoughts! Peace is our theme for March and we're asking: How are you a peacemaker? Tell us in 200 words or less. Send YourThoughts by Feb. 10, 2012 to firstname.lastname@example.org
In April our theme is Mothers of Invention. We're asking: When was a time you invented change in your life? Tell us in 200 words of less. Send YourThoughts by March 10, 2012 to email@example.com