Perception

I feel like half of my posts on this blog are the sort of thing stoned 14-year olds talk about when they want to sound deep. Still, apparently a bunch of people are into reading that, so here’s another post along those lines.

I received a message today from a member of the facebook group I’m an admin for. I’ve been a part of that community for a few years now, so when the chance to help serve it came up, I decided to go for it. It’s been interesting. Most days it’s no work at all, some days it’s an overwhelming amount of work.Anyways. The message was from a member of the group who wanted to express their appreciation of how I did my job. It was completely unexpected. For whatever reason, the people in that group see me as such a thoroughly kind, thoughtful, respectful person. And sure, I try to be all those things, but as anyone who has known me in person for long can tell you, it’s not how I most a lot of the time. However, they expect me to be this wonderful way and… actually, I am. Not always, of course, but I do a better job at being that person than I do in my day-to-day life. The expectations they have of me, while sometimes stressful, encourage me to be the best person I can be.

Of course, I can’t talk about anything for five minutes without bringing up my gender transition, so let’s go on about that for a bit.

In the year before I came out, I knew 100% that I’m a woman, but I was still presenting male. I could feel people expecting me to behave in certain ways, and though I ignored those expectations with small things, I acted in accordance to them for the most part. After I came out, I felt less restricted, and so acted in ways I never would have before starting transition. It wasn’t just with the way I dressed, it was in tiny things about the way I spoke, and acted. I remember a friend getting uncomfortable because I said “okey dokey” once, or getting weird looks once for saying a dress looked cute on a friend.

After transition,  that pressure wasn’t just gone, it turned around. Now I feel a different sort of expectation. I’m expected to laugh more, be nicer, flirt more, smile, look pretty… Well, you know the rest. And it’s ridiculous because even people I’ve known pre-transition have changed expectations and it’s just odd that instead of just ditching the whole idea, they simply switch to another set of restricting behaviour.

Ultimately, the most frustrating part of it all is that I play along with it. Just like the bizarrely positive image people have of me in that facebook group makes me try to be a better person than I am, the idea people have of me at work makes it easier to fit into certain behaviours, while the way some friends see me makes it less work to be a certain way around them.

You would think someone who ignored society’s idea of what they should be would be totally free of pressure to be one way or another, but it just doesn’t work like that. We’re social creatures, and as comforting as it would be to think we’re defined solely by our values, and by the little voice providing inner commentary, the truth is that the people around us and the way they see us will shape the people we are. Like clay changing to fit the mold it’s pushed into, society and our family and friends will all play a part in determining who we are. And sure, maybe it won’t have much of an effect, but that’s only if you’re careful and aware of it. If you’re not, it can be easy to just be pushed this way, and shaped that way, and find one day that you’ve become a person that doesn’t actually feel like yourself, simply because it was easy.

Maybe that’s how I feel today. I don’t really know. I’m just tired of constantly being subjected to people’s ideas of who I should be. I’m myself. I wish that were enough.

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