I’m coming up on a year since I came out and went full time as Stephanie. What a year it has been. I’ve never been happier and freer in my skin than I have been in the last year. If only I known prior to transition how it would affect me, I’d have done this years ago. I’d like to share some of my biggest emotional differences.
Self-love. For the first time in my life, I love me. I don’t look perfect; it isn’t that I don’t have flaws that I would like to change, but I now like to see myself. I like taking pictures. I feel pretty regardless of how others see me. I am validated, not by how others think of me, but how I perceive myself. I don’t need others to tell me I am pretty to feel pretty. However, when I am complimented, it makes me so happy. Compliments as such prior to my transition didn’t make me feel any better. In fact, they usually made me feel worse because I didn’t feel handsome or pretty.
Healthy and less judgmental evaluation of my past. I no longer look backwards with regret. I can more effectively look back, think of how things might have been better, but not be unhappy with how things have turned out. I’ve put my uncomfortable disgust with high school me behind me. I realized that my unhappiness and regret wasn’t due to anything or anybody in high school. It really stemmed from my unhappiness at being uncomfortable with myself that manifested into unhealthy feelings about that particular time in my life.
I love my name. I am attached to it, and it means the world to me. I’m happy to have it; never felt that way about my name before my transition. For the longest time, I wished I’d been named after my father, although that would have been even harder in my coming out. I know it upset mom when I changed it, but I think we are all good on it now. When I was little, I went by my middle name and changed to using my first name when I started school. That didn’t affect me at all, like I said, no emotional attachment. There were still a good number of people up till I transitioned who still used my middle name. My preferred name wasn’t really preferred; it was just how I was addressed. That isn’t the case anymore. I love my name. I tolerate a shortening of my name only because it has made it easier for some people to remember. However, I actually prefer my full name.
Work. Getting up and going to work isn’t as much of an issue as it used to be. A lot of my unhappiness and frustration about work stemmed from my emotional well-being. Meaning, that since I couldn’t be me, I hated being at work. Every stressful occurrence at work made me wish I wasn’t there. Now my handling of stress is healthier. I still complain about stuff, but I work to find solutions instead of trying to find ways to run away. It isn’t perfect, but the change has been significant, though I still need to not miss as much time at work.
I actually enjoy and want to be out and away from the house. I’m not saying I never want to go home, but I do tend to dress down and not look as I do when at home. I feel better about me going out. I love home and being out of the house. I no longer depend on being home for validation. For the longest time, I could only find validation at home; because that was the only place I could be me. Now that I can be me anywhere, I want to go out and show the world.
I love finding ways of expressing myself. Jewelry, clothes, tattoos, piercings all mean something to me or says something about me, and it shows the world who Stephanie really is, as much as those things can. Stephanie is so much more than the material things that I use to express myself. That did not use to be the case. I tended to wear more of what I thought was expected instead of finding my own connection with clothes and such. I had sentimental attachment to some things, but clothes mostly didn’t make me feel anything. I used to enjoy wearing suits and dress clothes, but that isn’t the normal wear for my current job so I moved away from that. That was the only time in my life that I felt I was expressing myself, when I used to wear suits, when I worked at my previous job. Now I can feel expressive no matter what I am wearing.
I am more comfortable trying out new things. I can’t begin to say enough about how much my wife helped me in finding suitable styles that look good on. I’m not an expert, but I am moving away from the oblivious guy fashion sense and becoming more comfortable in experimenting with different styles and combinations. I enjoy the experience, and I love finding things that work on my own. Rebecca is still my confidant, but I’m slowly becoming more independent. Maybe someday, she’ll even borrow my clothes and replicate my styles. This also includes makeup. I was very reluctant to try and learn about using makeup prior to transition. But again, with my wife’s help, I have found things that I love and like, even learning about what doesn’t work on me. It has been fun learning new things, and I enjoy how makeup makes me feel. I don’t need makeup to feel validated, but I enjoy the feeling it gives me in expressing myself. It keeps dysphoria down as well.
Day to day events affect my overall mood less than they used to. It used to be that having something go wrong during the day could ruin a mood faster than you could say mood-swing. It’s harder to break a good mood than it used to be, and being happy is more and more my baseline than something that only happened every so often. My overall mood is not as much tied to how something is going. I can be upset in a moment, but still be overall content and happy. For example; frustration at work because of a change can still cause frustration, anger, or sarcasm, but it doesn’t pull my overall emotional well being down like it once did. When the moment has passed, I’m back to feeling the way I did before the event.
The changes, which transpired during the last year were dramatic. It’s been hard to keep up and equally difficult to break from the previous poor coping habits in my years of repression. I can’t imagine anyone that saw me daily prior to transition, and who sees me now, would suggest that I made a poor choice, or that my transition hasn’t been wonderful for me. For once in my life, I can live in the here and now and not in the clouds of the future. If I died today, I would die happy that I achieved bliss in the now and wasn’t left in the realm of regret for things undone. Not that I don’t have plans for the future, I do, but I’m not burdened by them as I used to be. Tomorrow will be there when it comes, but today is here now, and the sun is shining.