Focusing on Why

I struggle at times, I’m not sure where it came from, I don’t know it it’s some remnant of a life spent asking myself every other question. I have a hard time not knowing why.

Not in any particular way, but in a very general sense, I want to know why something works the way it does. I did a test the other day. it was meant to determine one’s bias towards associating men and women with family and career. Rather then focusing on the test, which was basically a word association game. I couldn’t help but focus on how it worked, Until I understood how it worked, and why it did what it did. I figured it out while I was writing the test, but likely skewed my results because of the brainpower I put into figuring out the game.

For those that are curious it compared the time it took you to respond in different scenarios to different word associations. If I had of known it was going to explain that to me at the end, I wouldn’t have needed to think it through.

Which comes to my point, I struggle when I don’t know why something is the way that it is. I want to know how to works, I want to know why someone made it. I like knowing the who, the what, even the where and when can be interesting, how is usually important to breaking something down, but I need to know why. I need a purpose, I need a goal. I need to understand why someone put the effort into something in the first place.

Which is a struggle for me at times, because I don’t often have a ready answer. It challenges me in the workplace, because I want to very much to ascribe some grand plan, or well executed thought to an action of a co-worker or boss. Yet often there isn’t one. I’m not a fan of something happening because of apathy or lack of attention. It means that there is no reason something happened, there is no why.

I’ve been talking about motivation a lot lately, and it often comes down to why. If I don’t feel like my purpose, and the purpose of others are in alignment I struggle. I need to know that there’s more to something then inertia. The worst answer I can ever hear to a question is that “it is because it is.”

I’ve put a lot of effort in my life into knowing myself, and I’m not particularly good at it, but it’s a lifelong goal, and part of knowing yourself is why you do what you do, and we live in a social world, nothing is an effort of one. Knowing the why around you helps you understand yourself.

 

Finding Motivation Pt. 3

In continuation of my discussion around finding motivation, finding purpose, finding meaning. I find myself itching to discuss this when my motivation is at it’s lowest. In August I talked about this topic specifically, if you’d like to read them they’re linked below.

Finding Motivation

Finding Motivation Pt. 2

So I talked there about finding purpose and meaning and ultimately motivation beyond the prescribed methods. Material fulfillment is limited in a world that legitimizes discrimination in many different and subtle ways. Social fulfillment can be fleeting or difficult to grasp when confronted with the fact that your presence makes people uncomfortable, not because of anything you’ve done but what you represent to them. Spiritual fulfillment can be almost impossible when your existence challenges the basis of most modern religions.

Without a lot of external support, we’re left with only what we muster ourselves. I’ve said this before, but finding motivation has come down to what I can put forward for myself. There’s very little pushing me to succeed, what I mean is that there’s little expectation to succeed, and when I fail there’s a general acceptance that I shouldn’t have expected any different. Nobody goes, ‘well I think you should have done better, let’s see what went wrong and see if we can help you next time.’ instead I’ve come to expect ‘what did you think would happen?’

It’s amazing how pervasive the expectation of failure can be, it infects me at times. So if my earlier writing was about finding motivation, I guess I just need to elaborate that it’s not a one and done solution, you don’t find motivation and then you’re good forever, finding meaning and substance to what you’re doing. Finding a reason to do what you do, is a process that never stops. When no one expects you to do well, then you’ve got to fight everyday to not believe them. It’s hard, it’s tiring, but it’s the most important thing you’ll do.

A life of contemplation, a life of purpose, a life of meaning, a life of substance. A life worth living.

 

On Conforming

I’ve touched on this topic without ever directly discussing it.

The concept of conformity, of yielding to the group is one that I struggle intimately with.

My very existence sets me apart, my experiences are different then the majority of peoples, my perception of events is changed by my experiences and thus I interpret the world a little differently then the majority of people I interact with.

Yet, I am always acutely aware that it is their world. We live in a cis-centric heteronormative world. No matter how hard I try I can’t escape the fact that I am different, that my life is not the same as most people’s, and as such my experiences and opinions are different and at times difficult and inherently confrontational.

I am challenged at times to keep my opinions to myself, when problems arise that are so gendered in nature that I want to scream “it doesn’t matter” but I have to stop myself, I have to conform to the environment I’m in and understand that the way I perceive the world differs from others. Problems that I see as a result of a specific way of thinking are traditional values passed down generations that can be painful to challenge for others.

I’m sure there are many ways that my opinions and ideas challenge the orthodoxy of others. The fact that I and others like me exist inherently challenges rigid and defined gender roles, ideas of gender, and the role that gender has in our lives.

So conforming is both something I am pushed to, upholding feminine roles and ideals, not challenging sexism, and confining myself to a more narrow few of femininity then I truly believe because the alternative is transphobia. Yet conforming is also somethign I loathe and wish desperately to break free from, because it’s unilateral about appeasing an external world that still won’t like me, while also infringing on my own internal liberty.

Forcing conformity onto those that are different is evidence of a sick and disillusioned people, enamored with an ideal that can’t exist and afraid of a reality that forces them to acknowledge hard truths.

 

Ego sum. ego existo

My very first post, was around the purpose of why I started this whole blog in the first place. I had set out to create a guidebook for trans professionals. Which I would hope is evident from the name of the blog.

What I didn’t know at the time, was how difficult it was going to be to get the life experience necessary to begin to write that guidebook.

Transitioning is hard. It takes all of your courage, and it takes all of your strength. I know I spent my entire life dreaming of a day like today, where I’m sitting at my desk, in my own office, with some time to think on my hands, and a little bit of reflection in my heart. Whether I particularly dreamed of the office is irrelevent, what I’m intending is that I had some comfort and space to just exist.

That’s ultimately what it comes down to, ego sum, ego existo. I am, I exist. The original writing of Descartes, I think therefore I am. I think the original speaks more broadly to my truth. Because I thought long before I was.

Let me explain that better. I spent most of my life in the shadow of myself, trying desperately to unwind myself from the shell that surrounded me. To confuse matters more, we’re more then just ourselves in the single context of our mind. Though the mind is the source of our reason, and thus our self. It is within a social world, a physical interactive world that the self is actualized and realized.

So my own thinking mind was never enough, could never be enough to realize my entire person. It is only within the context of it’s expression truthfully could I begin to know myself and just be.

It’s difficult to explain but the last year has been the process of introducing myself to me and learning to express myself to others, for the first time, openly and honestly. Learning how to understand my emotions, feeling them with the richness and endless possibility that exists, not just repressing and suffering under their load.

Now I feel like I am, and therefore I exist.

 

 

 

On Anxiety

I’ve talked before about how I’ve started studying Stoicism. I want to take a moment and discuss how and why it helps me.

The word stoic usually invokes the idea of someone unfeeling, disconnected from their emotions. Which isn’t really what Stoicism is about. What I’ve come to understand is that it’s really the study of impressions, and understanding how that affects what you can and cannot control.

You can not control anything except your mind. You can direct your body, but you can’t control what happens to it. You don’t choose whether or not to get sick, as an example. So if you’re only able to control your own thoughts, then the goal of life is to find acceptance of that fact.

You can’t control what others do, nor what they do to you, you can’t control the world around you in any meaningful way. You can attempt to change things, and it is indeed good to try and do good things, but ultimately you can not control how other people react to you.

Anxiety is an internal state generally caused by externals. It’s something I have had to come to live with. What I’ve had to learn to contend with is that ultimately. that anxiety is something that I’ve created.

That’s not to say it’s not from unfounded fears. There are people in this world who want me dead, there are people who want to see my life destroyed. There are people who hate that I exist and feel so strongly that I am ruining their life just by existing. So feeling anxious doesn’t inherently sound like a stretch.

What I have to hold on to is that whether or not those people think that, or even if they act on that. If I’m beaten and broken, or even killed. Those are all external to me. I can’t change their feelings, I can only live, and I can only find solace in my own rational mind.

Being anxious and nervous, letting that fear build up, limits all of the moments that I could have been enjoying. One of the weaknesses that I’ve discovered about myself is that I have a hard time with vulnerability. I have put a substantial amount of effort into independence and limiting the way in which that which is outside of my power can hurt me. Rather then bringing me peace, it only magnifies the vulnerability I feel from what’s outside of my control.

The net result being that the more control I feel I have in my life, the more anxious and concerned I am with what’s out of my control. Which explains why I’m bad at keeping my thoughts in order, and my mind clear. I put so much stock in becoming independent that the thought of being dependent or even having another’s decisions affect me scares me. For no other reason then the fact that I have grown up so afraid of what the world would do to me when they found out I was trans, I’m almost waiting for the riot in the streets.

So I’m really only hurting myself, and I think I have to come to terms with the fact that the world just doesn’t care that much. I need to live my life, and I need to do it accepting that the world can hurt me, I can’t prevent that pain, and I might even be surprised when it isn’t that bad after all.