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Where do you get your strength?

July 15, 2009

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you might remember that a few friends and I founded an LGBTQ student group at our school. At first I was really excited, but I haven’t been doing much for some time now. That’s partly due to the difficulty of doing trans activism in a mostly lesbian and gay group, but I’ll write more on that later. Right now, I’m feeling tired and down and I just want to rant a little.

Where do you get your strength when it takes every ounce of energy you can muster to hold up your sense of self every day, only to have it trampled by people who can’t —who won’t— even see who you are? When every single day you have to rebuild yourself from the ashes of a girl who is no longer there? Where do you find the strength, even if you’re surrounded by people who loved you as a girl, when only a handful of them support you as the boy you are?

Sometimes I lower my standards. I say to myself, you’re lucky to have gotten this far alive; you’re lucky to be able to get up every morning; you know people who couldn’t stand the pressure. You don’t have to push yourself any further. But if I don’t push myself, if I can’t even stand up for myself and claim my rights, who is going to do it for me? What right do I have to feel tired already when there are so many people living in much worse conditions than I am?

How can you stand up for your rights when just standing up is so damn draining? Where do you find the strength?

8 Comments leave one →
  1. gunk permalink
    July 16, 2009 12:17 am

    Personally, I think I find that strength in the fact that not finding it – which amounts to not living – is just intolerable. No matter how hard I’ve tried in my life, I couldn’t squash who I was. Finding strength isn’t an option, it’s just something I do.
    I find strength in being alone, and taking time out for myself. Cancelling social engagements that I can’t deal with when I’m just too drained to navigate other people’s assumptions and opinions. Being with myself and remembering who I am and why that’s important. If I can’t cancel, if I have to be around people, then I let myself withdraw or have a “quiet day” every now and then.
    I meditate, and I spend time outside. For me, that’s pretty strength-building, but it’s different for everyone.
    I remember that by being me, and embracing my difference, I show other people what’s possible. I expand the diversity of gender. That’s really empowering for other people, I think. If just one person looks at me at thinks, hey, maybe that means I don’t have to fit in, either, then I feel like I’m doing ok.

    I talk to people. I tell close friends about how I’m feeling. I try to find one or two people in my life who I can lean on a bit. I take time out for myself. It’s so important to do that. Sure, have high standards, but don’t kill yourself trying to reach them. It really is an achievement to get out of bed some days. That realisation can make you feel lazy, or like you’re not doing enough. But all you can do is what you’re capable of, and if right now, you need a little break, that’s ok. Don’t beat yourself up – remind yourself of good stuff you’ve done in the past and that in order to keep doing good stuff, you need to have a rest sometimes, too. Because like you said, everyday life can be hard enough. What you’re doing is a big thing, and I think you know that there’s bound to be times when it seems so difficult. I guess I just wanted to suggest that “lazy” and “tired” are two different things. Don’t compare yourself to all the people who have things so much worse than you do. Just keep being yourself and doing what you do, and remember to be kind to yourself. :)

    • genderkid permalink*
      July 16, 2009 12:31 am

      “I find that strength in the fact that not finding it – which amounts to not living – is just intolerable”: yeah. That’s what makes me get up on not-so-good days. Once or twice I wondered what would happen if I just didn’t get up: I couldn’t imagine the answer. Luckily, I’m not tired of living. I just went through a rough spot earlier; I’m feeling better now.

      Thanks a lot for your time and kindness, gunk

      • gunk permalink
        July 16, 2009 6:04 am

        You’re welcome. I know it can be hard. I’m glad to hear you’re feeling better now! :)

  2. Evan permalink
    July 16, 2009 8:42 am

    i find my strength, in part, from this blog.

    i see your courage and that makes my own easier to find.

    i don’t think i’ve ever commented, but i come here often. perhaps this post would be a good opportunity to thank you for the strength you’ve already shown, and for the strength i’m sure you’ll continue to find.


  3. July 16, 2009 12:16 pm

    I agree that giving yourself quiet days is very, very important. I also have been telling myself that people who hate you don’t matter in the long run, and I can’t let their misconceptions damage my emerging self. Let yourself get some rest and strength back.

  4. July 16, 2009 4:13 pm

    this is a too-brief answer, because I have to go work in a second!

    when asserting myself as a boy in the world seems hard or impossible, when my body doesn’t feel like it can ever be “right”, when it’s really frustrating to exist because of knowing that people aren’t seeing me as I want to be seen, as I see myself… I think about how I was when I was struggling to “be a girl” in the right way: not understanding myself, not being able to express a whole part of my identity, or struggling to express it but second-guessing it and doubting myself constantly, knowing that I was missing a big part of myself but not even knowing what it was that I wanted to be.

    I still have lots of doubts & struggles & conflict, and many many questions, but I have so much more confidence now that I understand myself as a boy, and not as a girl… I feel like my personality is whole and complete again in a way it hasn’t been since I was 11 or so (and I’m 30 now, that’s a long time!). remembering how I carried myself, how I existed in the world as a girl, I feel like I am on a strong foundation, and I am sure that the path I am following is a good one. I don’t know where it will lead, but remembering where I am coming from — which seems so far away now, even though it was only about six months in the past — lets me know that this is a good journey to be on.

    I echo the other commenters in saying “thanks for your blog”! it’s good to have sympathetic voices out there.

  5. July 17, 2009 5:20 pm

    We can’t live for others.
    It’s hard during youth because THAT’S our job: to relate to others. But knowing in your heart gives the strength to continue on the path. Just remember to rest. Others? They are confused, just be patient with them- ignore the haters.


  6. July 17, 2009 5:50 pm

    I remember when I was in High School my mom telling me to choose my battles. This really stuck with me. If I truly felt someone was worth talking to, that they would really change then I would speak up. Their eventual change would have a viral effect by the change they could effect on others. Likewise, if someone wasn’t going to change, if they weren’t going to hear me or if they had no respect for me I would keep my mouth shut. Opening it would amount to handing my heart to them on a silver platter. They weren’t worth it. Are there opportunities that I missed because I was frightened or intimidated? Sure, but that’s OK. You don’t have to change the world, just one person and most importantly, you need to protect yourself in the process.

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