Why I Hate to be Asked “What Are You?” Exploring the Complexities of Personal Identity

What is one question you hate to be asked? Explain.

“What are you?”

It’s a simple question, but one that I hate to be asked. Whether it’s asked by a stranger, an acquaintance, or even a close friend, the question always catches me off guard and leaves me feeling uncomfortable. Because, its answer is complex and deeply rooted in the intricacies of personal identity.

At first glance, the question seems innocuous enough. It’s a way for people to get to know each other, to learn about each other’s backgrounds and cultural heritage. But for someone, who doesn’t fit neatly into a single category, the question can be deeply unsettling.

Why I Hate to be Asked "What Are You?" Exploring the Complexities of Personal Identity

Somebody might be a mix of different races and ethnicities, and his or her cultural heritage will be equally diverse. What if somebody’s parents come from different parts of the world, and he or she grew up in a multicultural household. As a result, it might have always a struggling moment with questions about identity. I feel fully at home in multiple cultures or communities, and I often feel like at home no matter where I go.

When people ask me “What are you?”, it confuses me. Actually anyone’s identity is much more complex than a label.

The question also implies that there is a single answer, a definitive way to describe who I am. But personal identity is never that simple. It is constantly evolving and changing, shaped by a wide range of factors including family, culture, language, and life experiences. What I am today might transform to something entirely different tomorrow.

Furthermore, the question can be deeply hurtful for people who don’t fit into neat categories. It can make people feel like they don’t belong, like they are somehow less than those who do fit into established boxes. It can also reinforce harmful stereotypes and prejudices, perpetuating the idea that there is a “normal” way to be.

So, what is the better option instead of asking this irritating question “What are you?”

The answer is to ask open-ended questions that invite people to share their stories and experiences rather than asking “What are you?”

In conclusion, the question “What are you?” is deeply problematic. It reduces people to a label, reinforces harmful stereotypes, and can be hurtful for those who don’t fit into established categories. Instead of asking this question, we can ask open-ended questions that allow people to share their stories and experiences in a more authentic and respectful way. By doing so, we can learn about each other’s unique identities and celebrate the diversity that makes us all human.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: