What I want to tell my crush

 

I’m a broken human.

I’m emotionally unstable and suffer from two, probably three, diagnosable mental illnesses.

I struggle with self-harm and low self-esteem. My brain in constantly telling me that people hate me, that I’m a horrible worthless person, and no matter how much people prove otherwise, no matter that I know the voices are wrong, nothing can convince my brain that I’m worth more than the dirt on the bottom of my shoes.

My gender is non-binary or nonexistent. My body may have been labeled “female” but that has never been the way it felt. Society constantly screams at me to follow rigid norms, to choose one or the other, but I don’t. I can’t. Even trying to use the bathroom can feel like choosing between which leg to chop off. The consequence is that I suffer from dysphoria and a constant anxiety that I’ll never fit in, never be understood, never be fully accepted. That it’s me and not society that has to change. That if I just tried a little harder everything would work out just fine. But I’ve been trying as hard as I can for my entire life. I deserve a break that I’m never going to get.

You’re my favorite kind of person.

You’re quiet but you have the power to speak your mind if people are willing to listen.

You take the time to listen.

When you state your opinions you let people know that’s what they are.

You’re 100% okay with agreeing to disagree. You don’t see disagreements as a roadblock to friendship.

You’re okay with admitting you’ve had struggles, while acknowledging that you might not understand those of others.

You don’t sympathize with people, you empathize.

You understand it’s okay to not like everyone. You get that it’s not your duty to be everyone’s friend. You’re cool with being selective. You understand quality is better than quantity.

You’re fun to talk to. You appreciate popular media but you dig below the surface to see what deeper meanings and implications the stories may hold.

You’re excited to share your passions with others and you are open to listening when others want to share their passions with you.

You’re eager to learn and excited to make an impact in this world.

You seek me out when almost no one else will.

There are few things I want more than to be with you, talk with you every day, feel you holding me so I know that things are eventually going to be alright. To have you around to confide in and share in the intimate parts of your life. I want to know the details of your day. I want to be a part of your routine.

But I don’t want to break you like I’ve been broken.

I don’t want to suck you in to the disaster that is my life.

I don’t want to upset you if you have to tell me you’re not comfortable dating someone who’s not a girl.

I don’t want to put you through any kind of emotional upset.

Because after knowing you for only a few months, I care about you too much.

I can’t be so selfish as to put you through that.

To put you in a spot where you might have to choose. Where you might struggle when I convince myself you don’t care about me. I don’t want you to feel like you have to prove yourself. I don’t want to draw you in and then push you away. I don’t want you to suffer the emotional tug-of-war that was my last relationship.

I don’t want you to care too much.

I don’t want you to become afraid of me.

So instead of telling you I’ll keep it to myself.

Better to see you wind up with someone else than with me.

 

Selfie Culture

People tell me I will feel better about myself if I accept the fact that I am pretty and my body has few flaws. I notice I take more “selfies” when I am feeling especially pretty or especially upset. I try to capture the moments when I feel good about myself so I can look back on them and know that they exist. A weird thing about our culture is that older generations complain when our generations post too much gloom and doom on social media, but they also complain when we post too many “selfies” or “groupies”, which for many people serve to capture the positivity that tends not to last nowadays. So we’re not allowed to be negative OR positive, essentially. We can’t point out the flaws in this world or the good things we see about ourselves and others.

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I know it can be annoying to see pretty much the same pictures of people over and over again, and it’s rough getting criticized by the older generation who says we’re attention-seekers whose happiness is dependent on how many likes we get on a given picture. I’m not going to say some people aren’t victim of that, but try thinking of it another way.

I’m not posting these pictures for you. I’m posting them for me.

I don’t care how many likes I get on my pictures because it doesn’t matter. I know who likes me, and I know who loves me, and pressing a button on a web site doesn’t change that.

I don’t care who sees my pictures, but it matters to me that I have the confidence to put them out there.

Because here’s the thing.

I already know I’m pretty.

I’ve known since I was little, and I’ve always appreciated the fact, because everyone kept telling me how pretty I was.

But it was never that important to me.

It actually got kind of annoying how hung up people got on that.

It got embarrassing. It made it seem like they thought that was the only important thing about me. How I looked.

It backfired. I started hating my face. My body. My shape. Everything about me on the outside.

I wanted people to appreciate what they couldn’t see. I wanted to be smart, to be clever, to be artistic, like my brothers were.

Because on the outside I’m perceived as a girl, the language about me changed.

It took me a while to reclaim my appearance. To remember that I’m not trying to be pretty for anyone.

Not even myself.

I’m not trying to be pretty at all.

I don’t feel like I have to be.

That’s not what’s important to me.

I post pictures of myself when I feel good about myself or especially upset, and I do it to remind myself that my ultimate goal is not the number of likes I get or how good my face looks.

My goal is to be loved and wanted for who I am inside.

And more than that, my goal is to make a positive impact wherever I go in this world.

And that has nothing to do with the way I look.

There are many reasons I still dislike the way I look but none of them are because I don’t think I’m pretty enough. I learned that about myself kind of recently. I don’t feel my current body reflects who I am on the inside, but it has little to do with societal conventions of beauty.

I already know I’m pretty. And yes, it’s nice to hear that, especially since current society’s definitions of “beauty” are so strict. My body has flaws that few people ever see, but I’m lucky that for the most part I happen to fall into this mold of “pretty.”

But that’s not important to me.

The reason I’m smiling in these pictures is because I know I’m a good person. I know that I try my hardest. I know that I’ve already started to make a positive impact. I know I have a lot to look forward to, a lot of work left to do. I have good people in my life. I have people that expect good things from me.

People tell me I will feel better about myself if I accept the fact that I am pretty. What they don’t know is that I’m past that. I’ve tried that, and at this point, for me, the “feel better” I get from thinking I’m pretty doesn’t last nearly as long, nor have nearly as much of an impact, as the feeling I get from reminding myself I have worth as a human being.

It was really hard getting to this point and I’m still struggling to stay there. I’m struggling daily to remind myself what’s important to me.

But I have moments to fall back on that help remind me. I take pictures like this to capture the light of those moments.

I don’t like everything about who I am. I don’t know many people that do, and those that do tend to be self-centered, terrified of life or boring. Knowing that I can dislike parts of myself and still like others gives me more strength than just looking in the mirror and thinking “Yeah, I’m pretty.” Being able to look at my reflection, turn away in dissatisfaction, and remind myself that actions speak louder than appearances, is what I need the most right now.

Being able to be dissatisfied with my appearance but know that it’s okay, that I have more important things to focus on, gives me more confidence than saying “I’m pretty” and believing it.

I dress up or down for myself. I opt out of makeup not because I believe it’s a scam but because I just don’t feel like wearing any. And when people tell me I should I shrug it off because that sentiment doesn’t matter to me. I might play around with it and enjoy it but right now I’m fine not putting any on in the morning.

I wear clothes that hide my shape because I happen to like loose baggy clothing. I think it’s more comfortable. And when people tell me it’s a waste of my curves I don’t pay much attention because I know what feels right to me.

And then there are days where I do feel like dressing up, I do feel like wearing skirts and leggings or fancy shirts, and when people tell me they wish I’d dress like that more often because I seem so confident, I look at them and wonder what is it about them that prevents them from seeing that same confidence when I wear my normal clothes. They may not see it but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel it.

I don’t care how I look to other people. Society tells me I should. That’s what I struggle with the most. Living in a society that tells me I have the wrong priorities, that I should care more what people say about how I look. But I don’t, really. I care what people say about my actions and my character.

I don’t know exactly where I’m going with this; it turned out a lot longer that I thought it would. But it’s my two cents for the day. I hope you got something out of it.

Who Am I?

I don’t think I’m ever going to be secure in my identity. Every day I encounter a situation, a person, a comment, an emotion, or an expression that makes me question how I present my gender. For almost a year now I have known that I am neither male nor female but some interesting thing in between. Some days I feel masculine or feminine but for the most part I feel comfortable outside of these expressions. But it is a struggle every day knowing that this is not the norm. It is a struggle every day fighting against ignorance and assumptions; attending large events and being left out when the speaker addresses “ladies and gentlemen” or speaks to “our young men and women.” This binary distinction leaves me and others like me out of the discussion. It is a struggle every day dealing with friends and family who tell me I “would be more comfortable” if I “embraced my femininity.” No, I would be more comfortable if people like you would accept me for who I am.

I’m terrified of telling people I want a different name and pronouns. I have been asked multiple times by some awesome people what my pronouns actually are and each time, though I usually tell them I’m “fine” with the pronouns assigned to me at birth, I feel a little more safe knowing that there are people out there who will switch without a problem if I ask them to start using they/them instead. But unfortunately these times are outweighed by the number of times someone reads my “Ask Me About My Pronouns” button and laughs because they think it’s an “English Major joke” or get uncomfortable when I tell them what it really means.

Like, why should my identity affect anyone else at all?

But then who am I kidding: a huge part of why I’m still hiding part of my identity is because I’m afraid no one will ever be comfortable enough with who I really am to spend the rest of their life with me, or even date me at all. How will they be able to explain me to their friends and family? How will they feel about themselves dating someone who doesn’t have a gender? How will they deal with my fluctuations in gender expression, my panic attacks when I feel like I’ll never truly be accepted in this society, my insecurities, inconsistencies, eccentricities, and emotions?

And do they even have to be a romantic partner to feel uncomfortable? What if my friends reject the real me, too?

It’s only been a year, but it’s been one of the longest years of my life and there are (thankfully) many yet to come. I’m powering through what I can and leaving be what I can’t, and I’ve learned to rely on my friends as best I can. I have support, and I have some privileges, and I have the security to know that, right now at least, I am relatively safe. I could be myself if I want to.

I don’t know what will happen. Maybe I’ll come out to everyone tomorrow; maybe I’ll wait for years. I’m almost positive I won’t be able to tell my parents until I have no obligations to visit them anymore. Most of my supervisors already know. I’m hoping to go into this summer at camp with everyone knowing as well. But telling them will be terrifying. I love my summer camp so much it would be awful to be turned away, but I love it so much I feel like I can’t go back hiding my true self from my kids.

I still have time but what comfort is that knowing I will go back to work and class on Monday hearing people use the wrong pronouns because I’m too afraid to tell them otherwise, and dealing with stupid remarks from classmates who just don’t get it? I hate feeling like the only one who knows anything about being non-binary and the only one who bothers to speak up about it. I hate having to hide myself when everyone tells me I should be authentic. I hate living in a world where what you say, what you do, how you act, and what you feel is restricted based off parts of your body you have no control over. I hate how almost everything and everyone who is the least bit “different” is seen as some kind of threat.

In some ways it would be easier to keep hiding. But I also know that hiding is exhausting. Is it more exhausting than constantly fighting to defend and validate my identity? I don’t know. But I will never know until I try. And I’d rather die knowing I tried and failed (but hopefully won) than die wondering what life would have been like living it as myself.