“Am I man enough?”

Sorry I haven’t updated lately. I didn’t even get a chance to talk about the end of the walk. I had an allergic reaction on the last day, and everything got completely hectic! After I returned, it was my anniversary, and then school started, and then teaching started, and now it’s Tracy’s birthday. One thing after another!!

Another reason why I haven’t been up to blogging is that I’m still struggling with my confidence. It’s really hard for me to write about my life and what I’m feeling when I’m not confident about who I am. So why the lack of confidence, you ask? Well, most of it comes from the changes I’m experiencing due to my transition. The physical changes are easy to deal with and definitely help me to feel more comfortable in my body (totally rocking patches of facial hair and my sideburns are growing in almost daily—woot woot!). However, the mental changes are kinda difficult. As someone who has been gender non-conforming for a long time, I have always felt offended when people make highly gender-based comments like “that’s a girl drink” or “be a man and just do it.” Interestingly enough, though, my lack of self-confidence all comes from one of “those” questions that keeps repeating in my head—“Am I a good enough man?”

I have always struggled with comparing myself to others, but have learned to reject the notion that in order to be “good enough” I have to be better than someone else. Every time I’m in a situation with other men, however, I find myself comparing everything I do and say to what they do/say. One situation where this arises frequently is when I use the men’s bathroom. While I most definitely pass these days and know (at least when my mind is being logical) that no one can tell that I’m not biologically male, I always become extremely anxious as soon as I walk in the bathroom. The dialogue in my head turns on, and I’m convinced that I’m doing something “wrong” or plain and simple, that I’m not “man enough” and everyone can tell that I’m not a “real” man. Yes, I know it is all so illogical.

I’m beginning to realize that the root of it is not actually what I think others are thinking about me, but how I actually feel about myself. I confident with Allison the gay woman, but I’m not confident at all as Alex the gay man. At the end of the day, I do feel inadequate in my masculinity and, although I hate to admit it, I do have some (okay maybe quite a bit) of internalized transphobia.

The worst part about the whole situation is that once I feel inadequate in one area, it spills over into other areas of my life, and struggling with one realm becomes struggling with two, then three, then four, etc.  As always, the first area where I start to feel inadequate is with my recovery from an eating disorder, since well… I’m still in recovery. I’ve finally allowed myself to start taking nutrition courses again (after much discussion with my dietitian, of course). While I was concerned about the actual material in the course triggering me and making me feel inadequate in terms of my weight and body size, the course content has been wonderful and the problem has been other students! Every day when I go into class, someone is talking about how they just “don’t deserve to be in class today” because they had a can of coke or a piece of cake or something else that’s “bad.” There’s usually banter about terribly disordered food rules and some woman listing 8,000 situations where she just “doesn’t eat” or “isn’t hungry.” Before I began recovery, it was all normal conversation for me too. However, I know now that engaging in body and food talk is just incredibly unhealthy for “normal” individuals, let alone those dealing with body issues. In case you don’t know, disordered eating is incredibly common among nutrition students, so this is sure to be an issue I’ll have to tackle as I further my education.

Since I’m experiencing an overall lack of confidence lately, I’ve found that when I enter my nutrition class, I find that others’ disordered conversations trigger the negative dialogue in my head.  I’m convinced that everyone is judging me or thinks I’m fat or gross or this that or the other thing.  It’s incredibly difficult not to compare myself to other people, even when I know that I’m much better off in recovery than I was when I was engaged in my full-blown eating disorder.

Despite this lack of confidence that is spilling over into other areas of my life, I know deep down inside of me that I’m a good person. I’m just Alex, and I never try to be anything other than that. I’m always true to myself and to my values, no matter how much chaos is around me, and that’s incredibly comforting. Sometimes I feel like others are always trying to pretend like they’re someone they’re not, and while living outside of the norm can be really stressful, I’d rather have conflict with others than with myself. At the end of the day, I don’t have to live with others if I don’t want to; I always have to live with myself.
All of this has placed a minor damper on my efforts to pound out my personal statement for medical school. It’s so hard to be open and confident about my life to others when I’m not even confident about it with myself. I’m working through it, though, and have made quite a bit of progress in the past few days. I’m hoping to wrap up and submit my applications this weekend!

That’s all for now my friends. I’m extremely tired!!

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