Monday, August 17, 2009

Social Anxiety

I am finding that in the wake of an outing as myself, I have trouble going back to my male program. It gets a little harder each time. Today I am back at work and after having a stress free day Saturday, almost completely devoted to social interaction, I am finding that here, I want no interaction at all. I hate the way I look today. I'm insecure. There is the realization that everyone around me sees me as a man.

In girl mode, I am almost fearless. In guy mode it takes all my resolve just to make eye contact and have a conversation with someone. Some part of me just wants to run and hide. Memories of my troubled school days mingle with more recent insults from school kids, and make me a nervous wreck around the children here. Just walking quickly through the halls, I am fine around them. But working in rooms full of them, or standing still in a hall participating in a conversation with them passing by stresses me. I find myself wondering what they are thinking. I feel their eyes on me. I am waiting for the punch line; for the girl who giggles, or the boy who is sure to shout "Fag!" any moment and embarrass me in front of whoever I'm talking too.

Just the idea that everyone around me percieves me as a guy, and a rather odd one at that, makes so many situations awkward. I feel inferior to all the genetic women around me. And the men make me feel a range of anything from awkward to defensive, depending on who it is. I just don't know how to act any more. It all feels overly complex, compared to girl mode, where there are no rules except be yourself; where I feel good about myself and can hold my head high in the presence of anyone.

I wish I could lay this tired act aside. It becomes more difficult, more frustrating, more of a challenge, with every passing day.

I will find the confidence to cope with this. It will be at least a year until I can move, and I can't spend all of it blushing and nervous. Its just a matter of finding the self confidence to face the world in this strange mode, between genders. As I walked in to work today, there were tons of kids in the computer lab adjoining my office. For anyone, eyes would lift, to see who had entered the room, but for me, many of those eyes didn't turn away. A casual glance around the room showed many openly staring. As their glass dismissed, and they filed past my office, many of them turned to look though the window. One boy hesitated as he looked in, then turned back to his friends and said "I thought that was a woman a few minutes ago!"

It was not meant to be, but it was very flattering. Still it illustrates my problem. I refuse to go back to masking my body language. I will not waste effort trying to rediscover my male voice when I hold be focusing on finding consistency in the new voice I'll use the rest of my life. I like my hair, and I will wear it as I wish. Basically, at this point I am willing to make no concessions to appease the people here, beyond tolerating male pronouns, and wearing Doc Martens and big baggy men's clothes in layers. That is my decision, so I really can't complain about the consequences. I'm just trying to live with as much authenticity as I can for the moment without pushing the envelope too far. Its a dreadfully hard balance, especially, right after recovering from laser.

Right now I've shed almost completely, but there are a few patchy, odd shaped places that were missed. Smaller than usual, but they are there, and I'm sure they fuel the suspicions that surround me here. I'm loving my progress though, especially when I am in settings where its okay to be myself. Even here, I am proud. Just, a little awkward, and doing my best not to rock the boat too far.

2 comments:

Suzi said...

It must be disconcerting to have all those kids ogling, staring, second-looking, second-guessing, etc. I actually think that most of them are more curious than anything else. There are always a few dumb-asses that will blurt out some comment, but everyone knows they are dumb-asses.

Are there any students or teachers that you might come out to? Have you talked to the administration? It just seems to me that you need a friend at school. I know you need to protect your job, but for how long? Will you be able to keep it after you go full time?

It totally makes sense that you feel like you're in the wrong skin and clothes at work. I don't blame you for wanting to be yourself. I feel like that a lot myself. When I'm stuck pouring concrete, for example...lol. I find myself daydreaming about being Suzi...made up...smelling good...feeling right in my skin. I don't know what to tell you about how far you should go in being yourself at work. Only you know how far you can push that envelope. I suspect that sooner or later, as you allow yourself to remain Shandy at work, you will be approached by someone...faculty, administration, etc. I just encourage you to have a plan and stick to it. Be aware of the consequences of "being you" and do what you can get away with. Again, I pray for you, that you can find the peace you need, as the woman you need to be. :)Suzi

ms.shandy said...

You are right, in that most are just curious. Actually, there are quite a few androgynous kids in the school. Its not like I'm anything they haven't seen (so far).

I have thought about coming out to some of my co-workers. There are several people I'm almost sure would be accepting. However, I'm not sure I could count on them keeping my secret. I think there are probably already rumors anyway though.

As for the consequences of being me, they are a little too high on this job at this point in time. My current work presentation is probably about as honest it will ever be. Its already more than I thought I would ever get away with here though. And its all temporary. :)