Finding a Middle Way

Maybe it’s because it’s Friday. But I’m having a good day.

I often feel a lot of insecurity and frustration at the social roles I am expected to take on, because of what body parts I was born with.

That side of me, seeking approval that will never come, says,”If you’re just more peppy, cheery, smiley with a painted face.. If you just accept your place.. If you just give in..” That is painful. To think that I could be accepted finally if I play the part that others want. That side of me is the crying little girl I was, still begging to be loved and wanted.

I have days where that side begins to win again. Today’s not that day.

I know that being predictable and nice to look at is what people want. The other side of me, the one that says,”People have value, and looks don’t factor into it” feels utter resentment. When that resentful part of me rules, I sometimes think that I could be trans. That since I don’t fit the mold, that I prefer everything about the other side, that if I could pass I could get approval while being happier, being myself without being constantly socially punished for the mismatch.

Yet either side can’t win. I’m not going to transition to male. But I’m not going to be a method actor as a woman, either. I can’t force people to reexamine their innate ideas of what a woman is. I can’t change human nature and social conditioning. People don’t try to understand their unconscious reactions to others, and often deny those reactions exist, because they don’t notice it happening. And I also know that even if I tried really hard to cater to what I’m supposed to be, I’d still be chasing that bump of approval. Even harder, I suspect, than before.

So it’s finding a middle ground, that I have been striving for.

The middle ground is: stop giving a f*ck.

Perhaps a more polite term is “radical acceptance.” This is the way the world is. This is the way you are. It’s going to be harder for you, and there’s nothing you can do. It is out of your control. Be careful spending emotional energy on other people. They will probably not return it. Choose wisely who you invest in. In the event I ever find platonic friends who genuinely don’t care that I’m not too feminine, cherish them.

Don’t compromise. I’ve already decided that I’m not wearing dresses or skirts, ever again. That’s going to be tricky if I attend a wedding or any sort of traditional, highly gendered event. But I can make it work; I can wear a flow-y tunic and long cardigan, to mimic the clothing that people associate with these events. Well, except my Indian skirt. It’s long and black and flowing. It seems immune from my inner immediate “NOPE” reaction.

Don’t apologize. This is a hard one. I’ve been so socialized to avoid conflict of any kind.

Don’t act like there is something wrong with the way I look and dress. There are always going to be people who comment on that. It’s the nature of being female in an entitled world. Don’t apologize for existing the way you are. These people, they don’t care about you, just the missing makeup on your face.

Be firm. Always be your own advocate, because you can’t be sure if anyone else will. Be kind, be respectful, but don’t allow anyone to tear you down.

Be cautious and more reserved. I’ve always had problems with being too open to new people. Because I have a delusion that if people just understand me, they will treat me well, they will believe me, they will like me. This is due to relentless approval seeking. “Everyone could be my friend if I just try hard enough”, the little girl within whispers. I always feel disappointment and self-loathing when my effort is not returned. This continues to damage me, and it’s of my own doing. I need to build a small wall within, and be more careful who I allow to pass it. Not all walls are terrible. I always threw my energy into building bridges to others that they didn’t want to cross, or even notice. It’s okay if people don’t know you. It’s okay if they don’t like you. You are still okay. Still alive, still breathing.

I also need to understand the people I need to approve of me never will. My father won’t. My stepmother won’t. My mother, increasingly, won’t. I can’t continue to seek it from randoms. It doesn’t work. It will never work. That is how I know it must change.

It’s absolutely funny, when I look at it, that I pride myself on being self-sufficient and independent, when inside I am an utter mess of need for approval. Blogging has been helping me, slowly through the years, to dissect what went wrong and what toxic coping mechanisms need to be pruned away. I still have a long way to go. But it feels closer every day.

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