2017 is YOURS.

Okay everyone, grab your coffee, wine, or whatever drink will get you through this article. It’s going to be a long one, so don’t say I didn’t warn you. But sometimes there are just so many thoughts in my head I think it would be rude to not share them with all of you. I know a good portion of you won’t really care at all what I have to say, but I know my mom reads all these so I like to think it matters at least a little bit.

Let’s lay out the basics of who I am as a person to start out with:

  • 22 year old college student way too close to graduation and the “real world”
  • strong-minded, opinionated, and probably too stubborn
  • a person who is over superficial, petty, catty life things – this is a big one. I’m way too old to care that your best friend in second grade ate your last cookie or ruined your pretty pink dress. Come on guys, there’s a lot more important things going on around here.
  • Lastly (this one may come as a shock to some of you), I am purely human.

 

The last bit may seem a little obvious, but I think it is worth spending some time on. Now, let’s not be ignorant and say that being human is something everyone truly understands. I am fully aware that my gender, age, sexuality, environment, upbringing, and literally every single factor in my life makes up for who I am as a person. So this is where I warn you: If you don’t want to hear about what a female/22/heterosexual/first-world country citizen/upper middle class person has to say about life, feel free to click out of this now and go back to binge-watching a show you’ve already seen three times on Netflix. I promise I won’t be upset. I will not apologize for who I am, but I am also not blind to my privilege – I realize I am in a great position in this life so for the love of God do not tell me my thoughts aren’t valid because I don’t know “the struggle.”

I’ll probably give another disclaimer: my opinions may not be important to you, but they are relevant (and for my own sanity I really must write them all out and send them into the world). In no way do I think I speak for anyone else in this life, but at our core we are all human, regardless of our own personal shit we have going on. (Basically I’m just saying all 7 billion people on this planet are of the same biological species).

Okay weird rant-y/disclaimer/ introduction over with. I’ll get on with it now.

It would be incredibly dumb for me to filter myself in any way because I’m genuinely so excited about the ridiculous stuff that goes on in my mind. If you know me in real life then you know that whatever I type is pretty spot-on for how I speak in conversation. Basically, I’m a huge proponent of being yourself without any apologies and living your life as authentically as possible because quite frankly, anything less than that would be a humongous waste of time and energy.

With that being said, I want to challenge everyone reading this to take a look at their lives and think about a time where you either held back from talking about something you believed in  or tailored it in a way that was different from your original, authentic thought. I realize sometimes we change our language and tone based on who we’re talking to -it really probably isn’t a good idea to tell your boss about the 4 tequila shots you took last Friday and how you stayed in bed all weekend recovering. While that is authentic and real, it doesn’t further great conversation or even make you a front-runner for that promotion. This is more about being authentic with your passions and things that give your life meaning.

Let’s take a little example from my lovely life. *I am not bashing ex-boyfriends without good reason so calm down*

Call me old-fashioned, but I’ve always been under the assumption that in no way is it okay for a man to put his hands on a woman. When I was 15 a different idiot boyfriend felt the need to grab me by the neck, in front of my mom, for some reason he felt was necessary. Ever since then I’ve been pretty set in my ways about the whole “boys don’t hit/touch girls” thing. Fast forward to my current 22 year old self and my thoughts on the subject haven’t changed.

I’m sure you could guess my reaction to the upcoming story. One night while at a different boyfriend’s house (I don’t get around guys, I’m a serial monogamist with obvious bad taste) I heard a fight going on in the parking lot. I’m naturally a nosey person so I stood by the patio door and watched the events unfold. This poor 120 pound girl literally just wanted to tell her boyfriend about a problem she was having with her dad. The guy clearly wanted to get the hell out of there so he shoved his girlfriend out of his way a few times. That was enough to get my blood boiling but I stood there for a few more seconds to see what would happen. Long story short, the boyfriend picked up his girlfriend, turned around and forcibly threw her down in the bushes. uh HELL NO. As you can tell, that didn’t really fly with my so I immediately left the apartment to ask if the girl was alright.

So we’ll get to the part that really matters: my boyfriend later went on to say that it was the girl’s fault that anything even happened and he would hit a girl if he was in the same situation. He then went on to question why I involved myself. (Side note: I firmly believe the bystander theory is absolute shit. If something is happening you can guarantee I’ll step in, that’s just who I am.) I laid next to him, a bit dumbfounded and quite frankly a little bit scared that this person would put his hands on me or any woman if he was or felt attacked. Moral of the story: I just sat there and didn’t stand up for what I believed in, apart from saying “You’re an idiot.”

Physical and mental violence or abuse is something I am incredibly passionate about. This was an opportunity to be relentless with my feelings and tell that stupid guy off. However, for whatever reason, I pretty much kept my mouth shut. And for what….? This is exactly the kind of thing I hate about some people, and quite honestly why I hated that aspect of my relationship. The second you have to suppress your own thoughts to appease another person and hold back what you fervently believe in, that’s a problem. I’m not saying you should choose to argue with everyone you encounter for argument’s sake, but if you really believe in something there should be no harm in expressing that.

A huge problem I think we have in our society is our unwillingness to say what we believe for the sake of a bruised ego. We don’t want to offend people with our beliefs. I’m as sensitive as the next person, but being offended is a part of life. Nothing happens when you get offended. The world doesn’t stop, you don’t cease to exist; your feelings are hurt but you can go on with your life. I promise. I was offended when a younger boy mooed at me in the hallways of school when I was 10 but I didn’t spend a week crying about it. The beautiful thing about our existence is that we all perceive every aspect of life differently. THAT’S OKAY!!!! How incredibly dull would life be if there was only one shade of blue? Or if everyone thought there was only one kind of G/god? Difference is good and we need to be able to speak freely about the things we truly believe.

Today I challenge you to be as authentic as you can be. Wear the black lipstick your mom hates. Don’t “watch your mouth” because your friend doesn’t like hearing the word fuck. Call your parents and tell them you hate your degree and don’t want to go to law school anymore. (trust me, this one is terrifying but there’s so much freedom in honesty). Break up with your boyfriend if you can’t feel comfortable and supported in your own skin. Embrace your individuality and revel in the fact that you’re unique and complex. Take a chance and do or say something you normally wouldn’t because you’re afraid of upsetting the status quo. From personal experience, the second you forget about life’s “rules” and society’s “expectations” you’ll feel relieved and probably a little bit terrified. That’s okay too!! Use that energy to push yourself out of your comfort zone and live your life for the person you are or want to become. As soon as you learn to love and respect your individuality, the sun shines a little brighter and you smile a little bit bigger. There’s so much beauty in who and what you are, all you need to do is take a moment and be grateful for it.

Human Experience

This piece was part of a creative project for a class that I just finished taking. Now, before anyone gets to reading this I’ll say a couple things just as a disclaimer. As a heterosexual cisgender woman, I am in no way trying to pretend like I know what it means to be transgender. I had the privilege to learn about transgender history and some incredible literature and I really found a connection and respect to the material that I was reading.  I’ve learned that education is a truly powerful thing that leads to so many amazing avenues no matter what you identify as. Secondly, in no way am I trying to diminish a person’s gender identity by writing as an outsider. This project asked us to write a piece of activist literature, in other words, to display an issue we learned about in a creative way.

I truly believe that whether you are heterosexual, homosexual, binary, non-binary, gender fluid, transgender, or any other identity that is existing on this planet, you can learn so much about yourself by learning about other people. It is important to recognize the great variances we have in our society because at the end of it all, these are all human experiences. By suspending any bias or negative thinking, when we look at people for who they are, apart from the pieces we may not agree with, we are able to appreciate a person for who they are at the core. Identity is something inherently personal, therefore it is no one’s job to diminish or dismiss an identity different than one’s own. My hope for this piece was to bring some kind of attention to something that is different than my own personal experience, and for others gain a respect and compassion for the people who are unlike themselves.

Becoming Brigitte

December 27, 2007: Something just doesn’t feel right. I don’t know what it is; I haven’t been able to put my finger on it. This year for Christmas my parents gave me a G.I. Joe action figure and I tried as hard as I could to pretend like I was excited to open it. I guess all the time I’ve spent trying to bond with my dad over his love of war and weaponry paid off in some kind of way. All I wanted to do was feel like I was close to him. After all, he is the strongest man I know and what guy doesn’t want to grow up to be like his father? I’ve tried everything I can think of to make him like me, to make him picture me as the perfect son he’d always dreamed about. The one time he found girl’s underwear in my room I had to spend hours concocting a lie about how I finally got to third base with this girl in my class. If only he knew the real reason those were on my bedroom floor…

 

December 31, 2007: I guess it’s pretty convenient that my parents have more of a social life than I do. New Years Eve is finally here so I have the house all to myself for a couple hours. I convinced my mom that I was going to a huge party out in the Woodlands, but in reality I just wanted a break from all human contact. I sold my old iPod my mom bought me and used the $70 to buy some cheap eye shadow, lip gloss, and a Halloween wig I found at the costume shop up on 37th Ave. As soon as I heard the door slam and the headlights back out of the driveway, I rushed to grab my secret belongings from underneath my bed. The lip gloss had managed to slide in between some pages of a Men’s Health magazine, which I found quite ironic. I locked up all the doors, turned on my favorite song by Katy Perry, and danced around in the bathroom mirror as I slid the shiny pink-tinted gloss across my lips. Before I knew it, I was in a bleach blond wig covered in glittery blue eye shadow twirling around in an extra large Pink Floyd band tee pretending it was a ball gown. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more beautiful in my entire life.

 

January 26, 2008: In the past month a lot has happened. I finally stopped cutting my hair and it is now hanging delicately at the top of my shoulders. I convinced my mom to let me get rid of all the horrendously ugly button-up shirts she’d made me accumulate over the past couple of years and traded them in for tighter fitting V-necks. Little does she know I’ve been fantasizing about the possibility that one day I’ll have larger breasts to fill up the space where my flat chest currently resides. I’ve tried telling my mom the truth about myself multiple times, but I can’t seem to fit the “Hey mom I’m really a girl” speech in between breakfast and her morning pilates class. Sometimes I go in the depths of my closet, past all of the hidden tank tops and dresses I’ve seemed to steal from the local Goodwill, and I find that G.I. Joe doll. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve tried to connect with the doll’s strong physique and sheer “maleness”. All I can seem to think about is how gorgeous Ryan Gosling looked in his Army uniform the first time I watched the Notebook. That’s not really the kind of conversation I can have with my dad now, is it?

 

February 13, 2008: Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. I’ve decided that tomorrow will be the day that I finally tell my parents that I am transgender. It’s kind of funny if you think about it – the day that you’re supposed to spend surrounded by your loved ones is the day I pick to potentially exile myself from my family. This just seems the most appropriate thing for me to do. I’ve been living as Brigitte Adams online now for over six months. I chose my name based on Brigitte Bardot because she exudes female energy and is desired by all – two things I strive to be at some point in the future. I’ve made other trans friends as Brigitte on Facebook, but all I can think about now is how to cross my virtual life into the real world. This Valentine’s Day I’ve chosen to fall in love with myself because I have figured out I am completely deserving of pure love in any form I can get. I cannot wait to introduce my parents to their daughter tomorrow.

. . .

            I won’t ever forget that morning; it was a balmy February day and the sun was barely peaking out from behind the grey clouds. I received the call at 9:32 a.m. When I answered the phone I was immediately overwhelmed with a sense of uneasiness. I did not recognize the voice that was on the other end even though it was coming from my wife’s cell phone.

“Mr. Adams, please go directly to Parkview Hospital. There’s been an accident,” said the monotone male voice on the other end of the line.

I froze in absolute fear, I felt the breath in my lungs dissipate and my heart race to an uncomfortable beat. I knew my wife left at 9:15 a.m. to take Aaron to school and with it only being 9:30 something inside of me knew what I would find once I had gotten to the hospital. When I arrived I was met by a doctor with a grim look on his face. I broke down before he could even mutter the words, “I’m sorry Mr. Adams but your wife and son have been killed in an accident.”

I can’t tell you what I’ve been feeling for the past few weeks. I’ve gone from being completely numb to feeling as if the actual weight of the world was crushing down on me as I silently laid in my bed, my wife’s smell still lingering on her pillow. I couldn’t even bring myself to go into Aaron’s room until that day, the one that changed everything I knew about my family. It was early in the morning, probably seven or eight, and I couldn’t live in the denial any longer. I slowly crept into Aaron’s room, almost as if I were trying to be quiet enough not to wake him. Lord, how I wish that were the case. I rummaged through everything I could find, pulling out t-shirts and shoes, trying to recreate the image of my son. I ended in the closet, all of my son’s memories hanging there on the shelves. I found old toy cars and model trains, pieces of his childhood that I wished I would have cherished while he was still alive. In my frenzy I must have pulled down every shirt that I could get my hands on, trying to burn my son’s scent into memory for the last time.

Strangely, something familiar came over me, but it wasn’t the cologne I know I’d purchased for Aaron just a few months ago. No, it was my wife’s Chanel No. 5 perfume I’d gifted her for Christmas and it was as pungent as her memory was in my brain. There, in the corner of the closet were three dresses, all stashed away as if no one were ever supposed to find them. I moved them out of the way, confused as to why women’s clothes were in my son’s closet. I remembered once finding a girl’s underwear next to his bed so I assumed my son was being a normal teenage boy and fooling around with someone without wanting his parents to find out. That is, until I moved the dresses and found the beautifully tragic secret my son had been hiding for years.

Tucked away under a pale blue dress were four torn out diary pages my son had been hiding. I looked at the last entry, dated February 13, the day before he died. I reread the last lines of the entry over and over again. I cannot wait to introduce my parents to their daughter tomorrow. I was shocked, confused, and disgusted by my ignorance. Here I was, father to a brilliant child and I had no idea that there was more than meets the eye. I gathered up the dresses, pressing them to my nose to try and gain a better understanding of the secrets hiding within the garments. At that moment another great sadness rushed over me, this time having nothing to do with Aaron. I found myself sobbing uncontrollably on the closet floor, dumbfounded by what I was feeling. I had never experienced true sadness like that before, even though I had just endured the death of my wife and child. This was something entirely different, no longer was I mourning the loss of my son, I was mourning the loss of my beautiful daughter, Brigitte, the one I hadn’t even gotten the chance to properly meet. Amidst all of my despair, I felt something poking into my left thigh, something I hadn’t even noticed before. I stood up, looked underneath my legs and found the G.I. Joe doll I had given my son this past Christmas. Taped to the back I found a piece of paper that I still carry in my wallet to this day. In perfect cursive, written in purple glittery ink were the words, “I’m sorry Dad. I wish you would have known then that I preferred Barbies.”

 

 

If you are interested in furthering your knowledge about the transgender and/or queer community, you may want to consider the following:

Transgender History  – Susan Stryker

Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us – Kate Bornstein

Paris is Burning – Film

*there are hundreds of more resources that I would be happy to share, but these are particularly stimulating*

So this in no way is beauty related, but I just have to get everything out there.

I think a HUGE part of growing up and experiencing life has to do with the people around you and how they may speak or act. I mean everyone is influenced  by those around them no matter how hard we like to think we’re all badass and tough on our own. No, that’s just not the way it works. The people around you play such a huge part in your overall experience and outlook on life.

With that being said, it is SO important to choose good people to be around and share your life. Now, not every decision you make is going to be a good one, but every decision will be a learning experience. And if life isn’t about learning and growing, what’s the point?

I feel that so many people are scared to stand up for themselves or say what they’re feeling just because of how people react. At the end of the day you have to be okay with yourself and the choices you make, no one else. Everyone should respect the fact that people are fundamentally different. No two people are always going to agree or feel the same way, yet everyone deserves the basic level of respect you naturally get when you’re a human being. It is beyond crazy to think that everything you say will be agreed with and praised, but it is even crazier to me to want everyone to agree with you. Opinions and disagreements facilitate conversation and change, they aren’t these evil things looking to tear apart our lives.

Now, with that all being said, some people take this too far. Disagreeing and causing pain and uneasiness just for the sake of doing so is never a good thing. I will never understand those that hurt others just for the sake of hurting them. Why do we spend time trying to bring people down? At the end of the day if we are surrounded by selfish, miserable people, we too will become that way. My point is this: treat others with kindness and surround yourself with only the kinds of people that treat you with the same kindness.

Life is hard enough as it is, we don’t need toxic people corrupting our daily lives. Ultimately, we are the only ones that can give people the chance to treat us badly. We all need to stand up and be done with the insensitivity and negativity that some people try to bring into our lives. At the end of the d ay, our lives are filled with the choices we make. You alone have the power to choose those that you share your life with, so share that wisely.

xoxo