I’ve been reading Brené Brown and working on being authentic and brave lately. It’s rough, but I think it’s an important step in owning who we are as Kickass Outcasts.
That’s great, Nonir, but what’s it got to do with me?
Well, it’s got me thinking about how much society pressures us to conform and how deeply most of us have internalized that message.
I’m out here running this site and business focused on putting myself out there as authentically as possible, right? I still worry about what people are going to think and how I stand out.
My subconscious decided to remind me of this the other night, when I had a dream about a cis woman telling me I needed to shave my legs (which I haven’t done in years, btw) in order to fit in. I woke up baffled and hurt--because I realized it was myself telling me to shave, even though I know the people important to me don’t actually care.
This message that I have to fit the perfect image of an AFAB person--hairless, meek, demure--has dug so deep into my brain that it pops up when I move toward doing anything authentic (okay, so shaving my legs may be a metaphor for something bigger, but the point remains).
Even when I think I’m ready to stand on my own and face the world as my Kickass Outcast self, this burning need to keep my head down and fit in refuses to let go.
I know I’m not alone in this. Talking to friends and hanging on the ‘net, I see almost everyone struggle with this. We’ve been conditioned from childhood to avoid making waves, to follow instructions, to tie our self-esteem to how well we can fit in. It’s an incredibly difficult thing to shake off.
But I do believe we can do it. I believe that, with the right support and encouragement and community, we can all learn to truly let ourselves shine. It might take a lifetime, and we’re never going to be perfect at it, but it’s worth the effort.
I’m taking my baby steps forward and continuing to refuse to shave my legs. Because screw you conformity.
What teeny tiny steps can you take to work toward being yourself instead of squishing yourself into a box?
Nonir is a queer pagan nerd and writes about various things in those realms.