Yo sé quien soy.
I’ve loved Don Quixote ever since I read it in high school. Something about his complete confidence in his identity, unshackled by the expectations of society, resonated with me. He’s not pure, he doesn’t add a lot to society, and he certainly isn’t successful (even by his own standards). But he is sure of himself and the life he lives.
I’ve always struggled with my gender identity, and only recently have I realized how that turmoil manifested throughout my life. Confusion over sexuality, how I perceive myself, how I feel about how others perceive me. Discontent always bubbling under the surface, escaping as anxiety and disorganized thought. Continuously measuring myself against the compulsory standards of femininity in order to feel grounded and connected to those around me—whether that be strictly adhering to them or actively rejecting them. No boxes fit how I felt. No after-school specials addressed this conflict. I was frustrated and anxious most of the time but it was nebulous, undefined. Nothing I could put words to or even fully understand. Until recently.
No boxes fit how I felt.
Like most of the great epiphanies in my life, it had no catalyst, no great climactic moment – but rather a serene understanding. An acceptance that all the stress built up over decades was rooted in not knowing who I was. Retrospectively realizing all of the little moments over many years that hinted at me just not quite fitting into the mold. And now…I still don’t know who I am! I haven’t reached a final form, but another evolution. A new sculpture of the clay that will continue to sculpt in change over many years. But I can find peace, love, and joy in the fluidity of my existence. I can trust that the boxes we fit ourselves in are arbitrary and that you can still be connected, happy, and fulfilled without them. Or even when jumping from one to another on any given day.
I haven’t reached a final form but another evolution.
This project was to express just that: the push and pull of what my relationship to gender feels like. The good and bad, the joy and pain, the discomfort, wonder, acceptance, and loneliness. Because although I am happy with who I am, there is always still turbulence. There are days that I am so confident and self-assured that nothing and no one can stop me. There are days that I lie on the floor for hours at a time because I can’t find clothes that fit or I don’t know what to wear. There are days where I feel entirely neutral. But not a day goes by anymore that I don’t think about my gender or lack thereof.
All that to say, it has been a journey to get where I am and I imagine it will keep evolving over the course of my life. I am learning to find joy in that evolution, to love the contradictions that define who I am. I like being androgynous, feminine, masculine, and everywhere in between, just as I know I love women, men, and everyone in between. The pandemic blessed me by centering my own self-perception rather than through the gaze of others. But that doesn’t mean that gaze, judgment and perception don’t still exist. There are still weights that pull at me, doubts that corrode the edges of my comfort zone.
Yo sé quien soy.
Maybe not quite. But for the first time in my life, I’m listening to who I am. Listening to what my heart and soul truly want. Feeling comfortable in this body and my place in the world.
And it’s been a really great place to start ♦