I can remember the day so clearly when I stopped caring "what other people thought." It was liberating. The days before that moment were draining -- emotionally, mentally, and physically. To wake up each day and put on that emotional suit of armor to protect me from the masses was exhausting.
So one day I just decided to step out and let the world take me as they will. I no longer had the need or interest in them seeing me as I saw myself. Their words and opinions would no longer defined me; I would define me and they were free to accept that or not. The words of others no longer impacted my thought or actions.
Like the quest for spiritual enlightenment, the search for gender self -acceptance is a deeply personal one that shouldn't require approval from anyone but you. But that is a tall order. No matter what we tell ourselves, we do care what others think, making it an ongoing effort to keep bringing ourselves back to our center, reminding ourselves of what is true, what matters within, what is healthy and beneficial to our time on Earth, and deflecting the will of the masses if required.
In an article by Rajiv Vij entitled Altering Your Karmic Cycle, he talks about "This journey entails learning to be a witness to our own mental and emotional patterns -- our dominant beliefs and our recurring and conditional responses. What makes you angry or fearful or anxious and how often? What beliefs do you have that make you feel that way?"
These are keys to understanding self and, more importantly, evolving.
He goes on to say what I have long-believed to be the most important mental and emotional transformation towards inner balance: "it requires taking personal responsibility for your situation -- rather than blame your circumstances, partner or colleagues, ..."
People often have patterns in their lives. Regardless of the changes they seem to make -- change of location, of job, of gender etc. -- they find themselves with the same outcomes over and over. Do you find yourself blaming your circumstances for unhappiness? Do you catch yourself saying "if only ...." then things would be better?
It is only when we take responsibility for the actions and outcomes they produce in our lives, and have the courage to objectively look at the patterns in our lives and what causes them, that we can begin to find our balance.
There are certain realities in life as we know it. Time is linear; we can't jump forward or back, we can only exist in the present, and in this form, life is limited to a certain amount of time. As such, you need to find bits of enjoyment in EACH day, regardless of what that enjoyment is. Take a few minutes to separate yourself from the rat-race of life. Will you waste time, or embrace it?
Watch a sunrise; spend some quiet time at a park, on a river bank, taking a walk, reading a book, alone. Anything that disconnects you from the turbulent chaos of life and gives your mind and soul a chance to relax. This is when your best clarity will present itself. Though not as intense as Zen practice, it is still a form of meditation that will serve to re-energize your spirit, soothe your soul, and spark your imagination.
To disregard the individual expression -- that this life here on Earth offers us -- would be to disregard the purpose of the experience itself, the richness of living. Your transness is not a curse or a blessing, it just is. Know that regardless of any religious beliefs you hold or spiritual quests, we are all unique individuals: there is no one else on Earth like you, there is no better version of you in the universe, because you are the only you that exists; celebrate and rejoice in that!
While many consider being transgender a gift, I never did. What I did consider a gift was the self-exploration that being transgender prompted me to seek: life is so much more than our gender identity.
If upon our deaths we are destined for reunification with the universal life-force, entry to heaven or hell, or whatever you personally believe, for now, recognize that in this time and place, you are here. Experience that the best you can and be grateful for each and every moment of it.
Even on a bad day, life is glorious, and the human spirit can endure whatever the heart has the courage to overcome.