Just be yourself

Recently a dear friend told me that he thought it was awesome that I was living my true self. Granted, he was a little drunk at the time but I welcomed the sentiment.

The thing is… am I living my true self? It’s a good question because after decades of trying to figure out who I am, I can’t really say that I know.

I’ve claimed a new identity for myself, shrugging off the shackles both of a name I had been given and didn’t like, and a nickname that worked until it didn’t. I’ve come to realise I truly don’t like the gender binary or the place I was allotted within it. I’ve tried to be open with what I do so that others can see my example and know that it’s okay for them to question too… But I don’t know that I know myself.

Slightly weird to have impostor syndrome regarding myself rather than my place in society, my job, or my friends. But it is a thing and I do wonder sometimes whether all this is still yet another mask that veils who I truly am.

Lockdown, working from home, and a welcoming workplace have allowed me to express myself in ways I wouldn’t be able to elsewhere in a much smaller time period.

Certain advantages to my job too: no one really cares what a developer looks like if they can code well.

Over this past year, I’ve found my new name, changed it officially (still lots of places that need paperwork sorted), tried to be more open with myself and others about who I am, sought counselling, got back on antidepressants, and bought some new clothes.

A few little things at first: women’s cardigans, some Snag tights… But recently I’ve made other purchases that have made me very happy.

I bought a bunch of underwear from Ecce Homo after a friend posted about his experience with them. There is something thrilling about wearing a lacy thong that I really like. Something about how it gives support while letting me forget it exists at the same time. Plus, they don’t gender their clothing – it’s done by body shape rather than genitalia.

Also bought some skirts, and honestly it’s something I should have done years ago. I’ve had a kilt for years – in my university tartan rather than my clan one – and I’ve used just about any excuse to wear it. Weddings, award ceremonies, gaming tournaments… There’s something freeing about it that I’ve always liked – that and I despise suits so having alternative formal wear is an excellent bonus to being Scottish.

Skirts though are quite different. I’ve been wearing skirts pretty much nonstop for a few weeks now and I don’t really see myself going back to jeans for everyday wear. Skirts are more comfortable, they give you more freedom of positioning, they’re great in the heat, and they don’t even get that in the way when you cycle. The main disadvantage is the lack of pockets, which is easily overcome by the use of bags. I bought some cute bags too because why wouldn’t I?

Honestly, the lack of pockets is something I’m used to from the kilt and the answer there is a sporran. What is a sporran if not a handbag for kilts?

And me wearing skirts has inspired my trans flatmate to get skirts too, so it’s already helping people express themselves, which is a nice bonus.

Really, what I’m saying is that the gender binary imposed on fashion is ultimately meaningless and we should wear whatever the hell makes us feel comfortable in our own skins regardless of what society preaches. If I want to wear a cute skirt and have a beard, then there’s no reason that I shouldn’t, so that’s what I’m doing.

To end off, here’s some wisdom stolen from other people.

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.

attributed to Gilbert Perreira

Just be yourself. Let people see the real, imperfect, flawed, quirky, weird, beautiful, magical person that you are.

Mandy Hale

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