Today I went into town with my friends to run some errands and we stopped to get a coffee. I’m not entirely sure how we got onto the subject of phases, all I remember of the conversation prior to this was us talking about what we’ve actually got from our degrees.
My friend who was sat opposite me started talking about how phases shouldn’t be disregarded and are just as much a part of a person as a constant trait. That yes, sexuality or gender may be a phase but its real at that time and whether it is a phase lasting 6 weeks or 60 years its still a valid part of someone’s life. Putting the word ‘just’ in front of it belittles it and makes it into something trivial. Using the word ‘phase’ suggests its temporary and therefore unimportant. We came to the conclusion that people are scared of change and want everything to stay constant which is why it the idea of people being fluid is hard to accept- it makes it harder to put people into a neatly defined box. That this is probably why so many people dismiss others’ experiences as “just a phase”.
“It’s not a phase, it’s who I am” has become something of an internet meme, usually said in a sarcastic tone to joke about a controversial appearance or choice [example: I used it when my hair was an absolute mess the other day and my friend commented on it]. But I feel that phases should be taken more seriously, nobody is the same person now as they were in the past.
I was a child once, now I’m an adult. Nobody tells me I was lying then, or that I’m lying now. Everyone just accepts that it was a part of my history and I’ve changed. It would be ridiculous of them to assume that me being an adult is only temporary and I’ll actually turn out to be a child all along. So why do it with other aspects of peoples’ identities?
Phases define who people are. A passing interest may be outgrown, or may be pursued. Trials with different labels may help people find the one that truly fits them. They may go back to their original. And that’s OK. Experimentation and fluidity of identities should be accepted because people grow. People change. And they’re allowed to change back.