(Originally posted on January 9, 2014 at I Dig Your Girlfriend.)
Several weeks ago, I went to my first appointment with my therapist. I’ve done therapy before, but I had a new, pressing topic to discuss. Since coming out, I’ve been feeling guilty about my outward expression; how I dress, how I wear my hair, whether or not I choose to wear make up.
Growing up, I idolized my older brother. I wanted to be as good as he was at everything, wanted to eat my cereal as fast as he did, wanted to grow to be as tall as he was. After we both grew to our close-to adult sizes, I started wearing a lot of his hand-me-downs. I continue to favour baggier clothes than many women do, and continue to purchase men’s pants to this day. When I was fourteen, I stopped dance classes after almost ten years. I was tired of having my hair styled tightly into buns cemented in place with gel and hairspray, and I was tired of the thick stage make up. I withdrew from make up and had no terrible interest in putting great effort into my hair.
When I was about fifteen, a year after I stopped dancing, I started Taekwon-do and archery classes. I wore more men’s clothing, and I enjoyed being good at things that were predominantly ‘guy’ things, like martial arts and science. I actively avoided anything pink, as I didn’t want to be associated with anything that girly. It got more and more intense as I got older. I only wore men’s pants and refused to carry a purse, opting for a man wallet. I took a bow-hunting course and was one of only three or four women in a class of around twenty. I was proud just to be there as a woman, and when I turned out to have more natural talent at certain things, you couldn’t wipe the grin off my face for days. I learned to drive a stick shift. I took welding classes. I was running my life under the motto of anything you can do, I can do better.
My dad has influenced me in this regard, as well. He has always been adamant that I should never need a man for anything – not to pay my bills, not to fix my car. I have done a lot of my own car maintenance, with my dad and brother showing me how to do it for next time. I’ve replaced my own brakes, done all my own oil changes, and I’ve changed a flat tire in a rainstorm. I see my financial and personal independence as a huge part of who I am, and will frequently deny help from others, especially men, with the phrase, ‘I’m an independent woman!’