One word of advice to all those ripening transpeople out there who are just about ready to drop into the world:
Don’t get too self aware.
Being trans in the world is hard enough. Being trans and too self aware, though, is just a killer.
If you can go out into the world and not be aware of how awkward or different or contradictory you look & sound, your life will be a damn sight easier.
I had to learn to be self-policing when I was very young. I knew that my mother’s narcissism, anger and pain could be set off by the slightest misstep on my part, ending up with me getting blasted as responsible for her profound unhappiness, so I learned to be very, very, very aware of the choices I made in the world. Like a dog who can sniff out the hormone fugue which comes before an epileptic seizure, I became hyper-vigilant for the slightest whiff of a coming explosion.
While there are benefits to this kind of instantaneous analysis, to this kind of permanent defensive crouch, the cost is very high.
Not being as painfully self aware, well, it now seems to me to be a much better choice, much easier and much less stressful.
I recently saw a transwoman talk about how coming out helped her quit smoking and lose 50 pounds, finally owning happiness. While I was happy for her, in looking at the dress she chose, how it didn’t seem to flatter her body shape, listening to her presentation, I saw things that I would not have been happy to show.
For her, though, her lack of self-awareness, her constrained self-scrutiny allowed her to just stand in the spotlight and say her piece, letting her get her positive message of liberation out into the world. I found this refreshing and admirable, reminding me of how my acute self-awareness came at a very, very high price.
The challenge for anyone performing in the world, even just as a gal on a first date, is how to be present with abandon and awareness at the same time. We have to get the feedback to know how we are being seen so we can engage * adapt while also dancing like nobody’s watching. We need to be fresh, loose and fluid while also being considered, considerate and measured.
Like any multitasking, we can’t do both of these things at the same time, so we have to master ultra fine time-slicing, able to switch so quickly between participant and observer that we appear seamless and graceful. By switching quickly we cover the spectrum.
This is one reason women often travel together, watching out for each other, having each others backs, allowing someone else to be the observer so we can more effectively immerse in the participant role. As a transwoman, though, we aren’t connected into networks of other women, instead being on a very individual journey.
Knowing that I had too much self-awareness, I searched for assistance and affirmation of moving to what seemed instinctive approaches, but my mastery of the meta, my coaches omnipresent awareness of my queerness and having them constantly probe my defences did not help lead me to a place where I could be confident and comfortable letting my self-awareness drop.
For those of you who can go back to a childhood where self-awareness was not a vital requirement, or at least you learned to trust your performance and not stand in fear of having people without emotions trash it, that’s a very good thing.
You need to be self aware to remove the stick from your butt, but too much self awareness will just end up leading you to hide, to stay away from just letting go and letting God. Like most of life, a binary solution won’t work, instead you need adaptive balance, flexible analogue thinking, a neural network kind of approach.
It is very easy for self-awareness to slip over into situational awareness which can slip over into other awareness. Living as an empath, looking to read how others are seeing you, how you are coming across and what they want to hear takes up a lot of energy. It also keeps you of service to others and it may also keep you safe, but it doesn’t keep you bold & free, doesn’t lead to surprises, to lovely or challenging surprises.
Too much of anything is a problem, leading you past effective balance. We are all jagged, though, with strengths and weaknesses, too much of one thing or the other, with predictable consequences. Every gift has a price, every blessing a downside. Being muscle bound has a price, just like being flabby does.
I don’t know how to move beyond painful self-awareness. It’s not something most people understand because they never had the reason or the inclination to get caught up in examination, questioning and doubt. I have been told that even when I try to be loose and free, my awareness shines right through, creating an instant separation between me and those who are not used to living inside the cerebral, therapeutic, reflective process.
Don’t get too self aware. Take the wisdom as it comes, yes, but stay playful, engaged and trusting, doing the best that you can in the moment and trusting that your beautiful humanity will shine through. Perfection is impossible, but true presence & commitment allows people to see your jagged truth, your desires and your learning, allows them to connect with you on a messy and real level.
Don’t get too much of anything. Too defended, too dramatic, too arrogant, too compliant, too whatever. Find balance as much as you can while being yourself and claiming your own mastery. Getting that balance in a group, though, a family or an organization or a network or such, seems to be a good idea; we all need encouragement and someone to help us feel safe and seen.
My awareness teaches me this lesson of moderation, but it my isolation seems to deny me the ability to own it.