I am only six months old. Today is the day that I am baptized a Christian. From here and out, I am expected to follow by the beliefs of this religion and live by these expectations that my parents have chosen for me. I do not have a say in whether I want to be a part of this religion or not. Of course, being only six months old, I cannot choose for myself. My father’s half of the family is Christian. Because of this, it is a requirement for me to also be a Christian. Choosing to change into another religion would be as if I am disgracing part of my family’s beliefs.
I am only ten years old. Today is the day that I discover that my mother and her side of the family are Jehovah’s Witnesses. Now that my parents are separated, she tells me that it was not of her choice to baptize me a Christian. She now reads to my brother, sister, and I A Book of Bible Stories every night. This is a time of confusion for me since I have now been introduced to this new religion that appears to be very opposite of the Christian religion. Growing up, I have been told that Christianity was the only correct religion to believe in. Now, my mother is exposing me to what seems to be a completely new way of life. I am being taught opposing ideas about what to believe in, but my own voice of opinion has yet to be acknowledged.
This leaves me in a place of uncertainty to the point where I feel invisible because what I want to believe in is still just a “phase” hiding in the shadows. I am now seventeen years old. From the start of my life until now, I have been told what my beliefs should and should not be. I have been told what I should and should not study. This coming from two different sides of my family has made me anxious about admitting to anyone what it is that I want to believe in for myself. I do not want to be judged.
Nor do I want to be disowned. All this questioning that I have done has led me to where I now choose to identify myself as Agnostic, meaning that I neither believe in nor disbelieve in a god or religion. My first moment of realization that I am Agnostic was when my brother came home for the summer after his junior year of college. We were about to leave the house, so we went to say bye to our mother. My mother always ends her goodbyes with saying, “Jehová te bendiga”, meaning “Jehovah bless you”.
As I am getting older, I am starting to feel more uneasy with saying it back to her. I am still uncertain why. The day that I tried saying it back to my mother after she had said it to my brother and I, my brother noticed that I appeared to be nervous. He saw the uncertainty look on my face while saying the words that I didn’t truly believe in back to my mother.
Once we left home, he asked me why I seemed uneasy saying the blessing back to her. This was the start of a much deeper conversation. I became more vocal about what I was feeling and described to him my perspective on religion and the contradictory thoughts that I was having. Then he told me about what being Agnostic is. This is when I had the realization that I had the same outlook on life as someone who is Agnostic. I finally discovered this part of my identity that I had been questioning for such long time.
I wanted to identify as Agnostic. After talking about how I was feeling with my brother, he let out his view of the world and admitted to me that he also finds himself questioning a god and religion. I felt a relief discovering that I was not in the wrong for having a different belief from my family because I was not the only one. I realized that choosing to identify as something other than what people around me identify as is not something that is wrong. Rather, it is something that is courageous because it takes bravery to identify as something under what I truly believe in for myself despite it being different from what my family believes in. It took me seventeen years to fully comprehend what a religion was and to discover my own belief for myself rather than allow for others to force a belief upon me. Coming from a family made up of two different religions, I felt pressured.
I was unsure of what to believe in because I felt it’d be shameful if I were to believe in a religion against their own. My grandparents are the most religious. Both my grandparents from my father’s and mother’s side of the family taught me that not believing a god was a sin and would bring about difficulties throughout my life. Being told that it is wrong to not believe in a god made me terrified to even second guess God’s existence. The guilt of betraying my family weighed heavily on my shoulders. I knew that I viewed the world different from what my family did.
However, I was too tentative about revealing my beliefs to them because I didn’t want to dissatisfy them and break against their expectations. I felt shut out from their world because I failed to see my true identity for what it was. My family implanted the idea that going against a religion was immoral, which made me believe that I was a “sinner”. The fear I had of betraying them distorted my vision and the ability to view myself as anything other than a disappointment because of the fear of letting down my family. All my life, I have abided to my family’s expectations of me. I found that I had an invisible identity that was not visible to anyone else, but I have learned to accept it. Although it took me seventeen years to discover my true beliefs, I have finally managed to find the answer to my questioning of religions. With the way that our world is made up, society often brainwashes people into believing that certain groups of people are more superior to others.
Identities are lost because individuality is harshly scrutinized due to society’s norms for what is expected of people. However, I strongly rebuttal this idea because identity is all that we really have in this world. At the end of the day, no one else’s opinions of me should create my identity because it is my right to be whoever I desire. My identity markers are what make me unique. I will always be proud to stand against the norms to reveal my invisibility.