Thursday, July 4, 2013
Secure & Insecure
I just realized something about myself. It might help you understand me if I mention it.
I have a dual nature. Despite being innately female, I was forced to grow up as a man. As a consequence, I developed masculine traits. I learned how to compete with men and have thick skin dealing with aggression. It is impossible to upset me by criticizing my male qualities. I have real confidence in my strength and masculine abilities. I have proven them many times and am very secure in myself as a man.
On the other hand, my female identity is new -- and I'm insecure about my femininity. Despite a lifetime of longing to do this, my public display of feminine clothing, makeup and appearance began only recently. Lacking experience with femininity, and also lacking a mentor to guide and teach me, my female presentation is rudimentary and hit-and-miss. My first attempts were embarrassingly bad. With effort, I've improved beyond that but I know I'm nowhere near the competence of a normal woman. And I may never be, but I strive for whatever improvement I can achieve.
Presenting as female, I feel vulnerable and exposed. My whole life, especially in my influential childhood, I was told that I'm not allowed to "act like a girl." So the very fact of presenting as female is something I feel shaky about. I worry that at any moment cops will barge in and haul me away for crimes against social convention. At least it feels that way.
It is in this mental context that I summon the depth of my courage and boldly try to create a female identity. Putting on women's clothing means something profoundly different for me than it does for most people.
Now to the heart of this post. A short while ago, I received a mild online criticism of my femininity in a blog comment. The criticism made me cry like a 12-year old girl. I reacted emotionally to the remark. The comment wasn't mean-spirited -- in fact, it was trying to be helpful -- but it pronounced negative judgment on my effort to dress up and the judgment stung me. After painful reflection, I now realize that my reaction was caused by insecurity within me and not by the comment. The external comment merely triggered my inner vulnerability. The comment isn't the problem; I am.
Intellectually, I know the path to growth involves inviting feedback, learning from it and incorporating that knowledge into future action. I know that. I welcome your comments, including critical ones. I learn valuable lessons from your feedback. So please keep your opinions coming. They are the key to my future.
I need to toughen up as a woman. Acquire confidence in my presentation and not be so sensitive to remarks from others. I need to put on my big-girl panties and stop sobbing like a baby.
This experience taught me that while I'm secure in my male identity, I'm insecure in my female identity. If I didn't experience that first-hand, I'd question whether such a schizophrenic condition is possible.
Are you secure about some things (like, maybe, your competence at work) and insecure about others (e.g., your appearance)? Is it possible to be vulnerable in some aspects of life and impregnable on others? What do you think?