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Are You A Rebel Or An Explorer?


For a long time, I’ve considered myself a “rebel” or sorts. While I don’t go around introducing myself as a rebel, there’s no denying it.


After all, I have been doing activist work for quite some time. Smash the patriarchy. Fuck white supremacy.


I talked a lot about liberation…liberating myself, my community, from the clutches of oppression we experience every day…racism, homophobia, transphobia, colonialism…


But things just never felt right…because I never felt “liberated.”


It wasn’t until I was able to embrace my inner explorer, where I finally began to feel free.


Don’t get me wrong though. My inner rebel is a badass. It had the burning rage of a thousand suns. And I channeled that rage into my activist work.


But a rebel needs an enemy. It needs an antithesis. The identity of my rebel was based on being antithetical to structures of oppression. So, ironically, my identity was still based on structures of oppression…but just the “anti” to those structures.


I knew very clearly what I didn’t want to be…I didn’t want to be a misogynist, racist, colonized, heteronormative, etc. But I had no clue who I wanted to be. My time, energy, and courage were spent engaging my rage to be antithetical.


Very little time, energy, and courage was spent exploring who I was, and what kind of life I wanted to live.


It took a long time before I was finally ready to embrace my inner explorer. The explorer is a bit different from my inner rebel. My explorer doesn’t really care about social norms or established rules. It doesn’t care to be an antithesis to structures of oppression.



The Difference Between The Rebel And The Explorer


My inner rebel is fuelled by rage, and is always ready for a good fight. And for me, personally, it has elements of self-shame to it, informing me on what I don’t want to become.


On the other hand, my inner explorer is fuelled by relentless curiosity to learn about myself and embrace my true authenticity. It is readily creative to embrace genuine ways of being that goes beyond established norms.


Here’s an example. As a rebel, I stopped playing basketball for a period of time, despite my love for basketball. This was a conscious decision to leave the arena of toxic masculinity…because the sporting institution is steeped in misogyny.


As an explorer, I returned to playing basketball because I love the team-play aspect to the game. And I aim to play with kindness and enthusiasm, because that’s how I enjoy the game the most, and also aligns with my values. And I’ve played enough to know that my enthusiasm often encourages healthier interactions between players. This approach has allowed me to embrace both my authentic love and enjoyment for basketball, and my values.


But both my inner rebel and inner explorer are important parts of me. Sometimes, I have to pull out that badass inner rebel and fuck some shit up. But in this current stage of my life, I am more engaged with my inner explorer to find creative approaches.


And I believe that is the point. There are different parts of you. And depending on the situation, you want to strategically draw on certain parts. And the important thing is, you want to develop both your inner rebel and the inner explorer.


As always, thanks for tuning in. If you found this helpful, get my free Asian Survival Guide.


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Harry Au

Therapy for Asians

MSW, RSW | he/him

HarryAuTherapy.com



I help Asians go from feeling trapped to becoming self-liberated.


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