From early on, I had plans. First, survive adolescence by escaping the grips of my narcissistic, alcoholic mother. Second, form an identity that convinces the world that, unlike her, I was “normal” enough to be worthy of credibility.

Christina’s Social Norms Playbook (ca. 1995): Emulate the families you see on TV, become educated, be attractive (but not too attractive), get that all-American guy to fall in love with you AND marry you, have kids, a steady job, a house in the suburbs… DON’T BECOME YOUR MOM.

(Check, check, check, check,CHECK. Hey world, am I normal yet?)

While trying to escape the perceived shame of our parents’ faults, we can condition ourselves to strive for a life of who not to be. Misguided, we don’t even realize that we put not becoming our parents ahead of self-fulfillment.

Time to change plans.


The strangeness of being raised by a family that doesn’t look like you comes and goes over time. But the racial inequities that exploded to the surface in 2020 birthed a reckoning, and this reckoning made me yearn for commonality more than ever before. I was reeling from an election season that exposed unfathomable bigotry. […]

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I will always remember the bright Florida day that my best friend and I decided to spread out a blanket to hang out and read our new teeny-bopper magazines. We were still middle school preteens, and we especially loved the quizzes that would answer our burning questions about grown-up things like crushes and makeup. Now, […]

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