I used to be a very angry teenager. A very, very angry one. I used to be bitter, jealous, and generally unpleasant.
Much of it was probably just a result of having to essentially live a lie every day pretending to be a man, but I feel hesitant to excuse all my personal shortcomings to being transgender. The truth is, I was just not a pleasant person to be around.
This has mostly changed since then. I’m still far from perfect, but I don’t make everyone around me want to claw their eyes off. What’s changed, then? Well, plenty of things. However, the one thing that I’d say has made most of a difference has been learning to be a loser.
Well, not quite. Rather, it’s been learning I can be wrong, and not basing my self-worth on how right I am, or how superior I feel compared to other people.
I remember loving to talk about how I liked The Beatles, and detailing exactly how it made me better than “teenagers” and everyone else my age. I was the special one for liking the most famous band in history. Special little snowflake, that was me.
I was the same way with most other things. Movies, comic books, videogames… I liked something only if it brought me a sense of smugness, if it made me feel more special than others, rather than simply because I enjoyed them.
Nowadays, what I enjoy doing is listening to Taylor Swift and smiling as I imagine the horror 14-year old me would feel if someone told them that was in their future.
Here’s the thing: Genuinely liking things is incredibly more attractive and fulfilling than disliking things.
Constantly putting other people down for liking The Jonas Brothers, or being into Harry Potter is boring. It doesn’t make you smarter than anyone else. Being bitter is fooling no one, not even yourself. Understanding there isn’t anything inherently wrong with liking popular things was a huge step in the right direction for me.
I used to keep score in relationships.
If I did something nice for someone and they didn’t thank me properly, I would file it somewhere inside my mind for future reference. If we made plans to meet, and someone bailed at the last second, that would go into my brain’s vindictive file cabinet.
Then, at the first opportunity, I’d add everything up, and get angry and bitter over people not appreciating me and blah, blah, blah. Essentially, I thought of relationships in terms of whether people were giving me all the things I thought my actions deserved, instead of looking at things from their points of view.
As much as I tried to make myself a victim, the truth is that I was just needy. Sometimes people filled the hole in my heart enough for a few seconds, but when they didn’t, I counted it against them. For years and years, it never occurred to me to think “well, what are they getting out of interactions with me?”
Once I did, I was kind of amazed at the friends I had. They spent time around this weird, creepy, obsessive, needy little person and had so much love and patience for me. It was kind of incredible.
I don’t care so much about what other people think of me anymore, and I just enjoy things without feeling the need to put others down. This has made me a million times more interesting. I also don’t feel the need to be the best in a relationship, I’ve let go of the victim complex I had.
The one advice I’d give to younger me for being friends is just letting go of their need to be better than others. Everything follows from there. Compassion, love, patience, etc.