Being cool with my identity.

There’s a picture of me when I was a really young kid, probably 4 or 5. My hair is a little scraggly and I’m doing a super goofball pose. I’m wearing leggings and a baggy shirt. Every time I look at it, I see who I really was and how I still am now. Through the years you change your look, your clothes, the things you like, the people you love, but you can’t really ever change the person you are.

I’ve struggled with my identity for years, and the more I think about it, I think it’s always come down to how I dress. Since I was old enough to decide what to wear, I’ve had some bizarre choices. When I hit middle school age I’d already been shopping exclusively in the boys’ section at Old Navy. I chose comfort over conformity. I didn’t want to dress like a girl. I didn’t really want to be a girl. For a few years I identified much more with boys and how they got to act. They could tell crass jokes, wear comfortable clothes, play sports, and they seemed free of the sorts of expectations that girls had. All my friends wore the same flared jeans, the same tight Abercrombie t-shirts, lip gloss, highlights, glitter eyeshadow… All of it.

Naturally, my sexuality was called into question in the schoolyard. Hell, I got called a Faggot by a boy I had a (HUGE) crush on. He screamed it at me across the playground. Middle school was a brutal experience. But I never changed myself, never tried to make me like them. I just kept being me. And even despite all that, I really didn’t like “Me” because nobody else seemed to.

I went through many phases over the year, tried to dress like a Pretty Girl, shop at the trendy stores and wear makeup (I started in ninth grade because a boy told me I’d be really pretty if I did).

Finally, right around the time I turned 21, I started going out, and I immediately found the place where I could feel most like myself. And I met people who I really loved – still do to this day – and I felt like, yes, here I am at a point in my life where it’s never been cooler to be Just Me.

I experimented with jewelry (really cool shit, like spiked bracelets claw rings) and make up (dramatic eyeliner wing-tips and bright red lipstick) and that was fun for a while, but after all of it, I came right back to what I was all along: That goofy kid dancing around in leggings and a t-shirt. My tomboy unifrom consists mainly of black jeans, a grey t-shirt, a black cardigan and wayfarers. Generally some black flats without socks, and a rockin’ black pea coat.

I know so many women who look lovely in a dress, and have meticulously painted nails, and awesome shades of lipstick, and gorgeous long hair. One can’t help but feeling inferior in the presence of these women. I really have to fight those thoughts though, because I KNOW, and I will always maintain that my identity is my greatest asset, and I must own it, and be me. And I’m pretty cool with being me.

About the Author

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Hi! I'm a graphic designer, photographer and female person. I live in Minneapolis with my husband Alan and our baby son Alexander and baby cat Arya.

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