I recently celebrated my birthday. This is the first year I felt the need to reminisce and reflect on the past year. Now that I think about it, I don't understand why January is the most popular time of the year to reflect on things and look forward to a new future. You would think that the day you were birthed into this world would be the moment that you would peer into your soul and your place in this universe. I suppose this goes to how arbitrary human beings are when milestones occur. But seeing as how this is my first year out, I feel the need to look at my life from the perspective of a person who is now a full year older than myself from a year ago. You would think that I would feel different, more mature, more well rounded, more solidified in my own identity, more wise. Whatever. The truth is that I feel different. Way different. I believe that is what I am reflecting on so much.
A year ago I was very much in the closet, and scared about all the challenges that would happen when I finally did come out as a transgender woman. This is truly something that when it happened I was not prepared for how profound the dynamics of my life would change. Simply put, I have discovered a undercurrent of confidence from having a year to make mistakes and put myself out there in a way I never had to before. Above everything else, that's what feels like the biggest difference. I've lived a very cloistered life and now having all the feelings I've been withholding from the world be unleashed is not something that I thought would ever happen in my life. Having a period of my life where more has happened in one year than in a decade is a testament to the relentless force of life. Without warning, your life can be upended. Your whole concept of safety and belonging can be called into question. Most importantly, challenges that you would never think of having to confront let alone be able to rise to the occasion can give one pause to the very essence of human capability. I know for me that's what happened.
Having being pushed to such a strong weight of momentum only took me further and further the more I kept myself focused on what was important: being whole. Living a fragmented reality is something only people who have ever had to live in the closet due to societal pressures or even internal dread will ever know the pain. Coming to terms with that pain was what kept the momentum throughout my transition. I was quite content to live the rest of my life feeling dead inside. Then when I found life inside of me I knew that something phenomenal had happened. It's one thing to live your life with a zombie-like malaise, it's another to finally discover something elemental to yourself that gets your up in the morning at the same time keeps your awake at night.
Because of that awakening in my humanity I look back at my life to the person that I was a year ago. Then I look to the person that I was a year before that. And the year before that, and the year before that, and so on. It troubles me to see a picture of a person getting younger and younger and having less and less relation to their state of mind or internal emotional landscape. I am unsure if that is a healthy aspect of growing up, or if it is simply a way my mind copes with what seems like to me a vast amount of time through extreme personal strife. I look at the individual in those pictures and even though it may be two years, three, four or even longer, the fact remains I have lost what power that identity had in my life.
Perhaps it was a feeling that my identity, my name, my gender, my sexuality, were all immutable forces of nature that were just as unchanging as the rhythm of the seasons. Things that I never had to forge for myself and were simply applied under the assumption of my appearance were things I didn't know how to articulate myself. One thing I am lucky for is to look back at that younger person with increasingly more forgiveness as the years pass. I feel that it is a part understanding others and their struggles as well as it is honoring mine, but the fact is that providing myself with that forgiveness is a relatively new muscle I'm growing and it takes finesse to be effective with it. Recognizing that I tried so hard to not embody the feelings that have come to define my presence in the world is something I've also struggled to forgive myself for.
I hope as I grow older that I won't necessarily grow wiser, or more intelligent, or even wealthier. Even though all three and more would be absolutely welcome, acceptance has been the most under-appreciated virtue in my life. There may be a time when I'm older, wiser, smarter and wealthier and have forgotten to be accepting. Beginning to write and put my craft of writing out in the world like this will come with it's own form of self-criticism, angst and doubt. Undoubtedly there may come a day when I look back at this moment with the same critical eye I look back on who I was before transition. When that day comes, I also hope to be able to let go of the self-conscious anxiety that holds me back from simply expressing my own humanity. In the same way that I held myself back with transition and only now I am able to inherit a sense of well being in seeing myself as a individual with great capacity and potential. Holding myself back from transition only robbed myself of any happiness that I have gained with others. In the same way I loose the opportunity to develop a craft I never had the confidence to build.
The future holds so much potential. The past has taught me so much about myself and enriched my life through the practice of persistence. Persistence not in the face of challenges, but in the pursuit of uncovering growth. I hope that I can look back at this post one day and say one thing: