2017 03 28
“I am not pretty enough.”
“I don’t look as good as (or in comparison to) the other gals.”
“I can’t compete with _______________ (insert name here).”
Every so often I get a comment like one of these from a gal wishing she could get out of her self imposed isolation.
I do a lot of things like fly, sail, ride motorcycle, travel. (BTW I worked LONG hours to make a good living, have a stable marriage meaning financial stability, live in a small old house, and practice frugality on things like doing my own car maintenance and driving it a LONG time.) I hear a lot of people say:
“You are so lucky.”
“It must be nice.”
“I will someday.”
And I remember relatives, aunts and uncles, parents, and friends who have passed away. Virtually all of them have said one or more of those statements, over and over for years, but never following through. A clock run out of sand with every missed opportunity. Did they close their eyes the last time with regrets on their minds? I also hear “I wish I had _____________ (insert activity here) a lot from someone in their last days.
I have an instrument rating. It allows me to fly an aircraft when I can’t see anything out the windows. Flying by instruments. This is something a pilot already with a license to fly in good weather may elect to earn to increase his/her capabilities. It takes book learning and flying practice. And $$$$$. And time. I told a local Certified Flight Instructor – Instrument (CFII) that I was thinking about getting my instrument rating. His reaction? He asked me “Are you going to really get it or just be one of the “I’m gonna group.””? I went for it, getting my rating in TEN days, a rating that most people spread out over a year. It wasn’t like I was anything special. It wasn’t like I had any extra abilities. It wasn’t anything except that I made the time commitment and followed through. And my life was all the better because of that experience. Not the flying alone, mind you. The feeling of accomplishment, the knowledge, the camaraderie, places we went and the pilot friends.
Life is like that.
We bought a sailboat, something I dreamed about since a kid. It is a huge financial commitment. Cost as much as our house, that simple, old, relatively inexpensive house we still live in. Stupid financial reasoning yes. But a dream is a dream while remembering those four quotes I heard so much. We decided to race the boat. Sailboat racing on the Great Lakes is very competitive. Things weren’t progressing as fast as we wanted, the learning curve is always long, it can take years. We were so bad that if anyone was behind us, they dropped out of the race, certain that their finishing position was shameful if it was behind us. So off we went to a sailboat racing school. For a week we had two hours of classroom, then four hours of match racing, and an hour of classroom review, Each Day for a Week. We went for it. Oh sure when we first started out we were laughed at. We took a chance, starting each race in the midst of highly experienced racers, with the potential for failure or crash, finishing at the end, laughed at. But after that school and practicing on our boat all summer, we won our division in the first major race we ever did at the end of that first summer. By the third year we were the boat to beat. And my life was all the better because of that experience. The feeling of accomplishment, the camaraderie of the crew, the experiences.
Yes there are CDers and transpersons who look better than I do. There are better sailboat racers than I, better pilots than I. I put a lot of effort in to my CDing, flying, sailing. But there will always be people better than I am, or people willing to expend more $$$$, more time, or take more risks which are not a good thing when flying or out on the water. If I compare myself to them and let them be my standard then I will never be happy with what I can do as a pilot or sailor. Oh definitely I keep practicing and improving my skills. But there are limits. Like trying to compete with the guy who devotes all his free time to sailboat racing. Or the guy who devotes all his free time to flying. I like to be good at what I do, but I also like variety in what I do.
I have put a lot of effort in to CDing. It has been like an engineering development program. Like a series of lab experiments. Each time I get dolled up I change one tiny part of it. To test for a possible improvement. Billie is in continuous development. Like my eye makeup. Each time I do my eyes I make a tiny change. If the change works out I incorporate it in to the next time, while changing something else a tiny bit. Since it is spring and I have been wearing pinks, I am experimenting with purple for eyeliner and lighter shades of shadow. The somewhat lighter eyes seem to work well for me with the lighter colors. But we will see. It is an ongoing experiment, a learning experience.
But OMG I looked terrible when I started! I have LOTS of pictures of me from the beginning. I have never let anyone see those pictures of me way back when, four and a half years ago, when I first started. I am not ashamed of them. They represent the foundation of what I built on. But they didn’t represent where I hoped to get.
BUT I STILL WENT OUT!!!!! Even though I knew I didn’t look the best, I still had the experiences, the fun.
Recently I corresponded with a friend who was sad because she could never be what she perceived is the ideal. Comparing herself as a newbee to the very experienced gals. Unaware of the length of the journey and the failures to get to what she was observing. Because she could only see the final product and not the beginning product, she declared that she would not be happy unless she could set out on the journey if she could start at the destination. I had been corresponding with this person and using a metaphor of two drivers anticipating a joy ride on a winding country back lane. The one in a Ferrari, the second unsure if he should even go because all he had was a pickup truck. I wrote: “No it isn’t the Ferrari I was destined for. But I get there with my trusty pickup truck and the experience is almost exactly the same. Maybe even better. Sometimes people think I am a Ferrari just because they don’t look past my bright red paint.” I was comparing my very imperfect Billie against the CDers who were born with bodies, faces, fingers, legs, arms, everything at an unattainable level of femininity denied to me. But if I used them as a yardstick, I would never have experienced the fun I COULD have. The view out that Ferrari windshield isn’t that much different than the view out my pickup truck windshield.
If we don’t go for it in the best way we can, we will never get anywhere, always be an “I’m Gonna”.
I wrote to my friend: “Competing with Amy or anyone is not necessary. That Ferrari is going to be disappointed because there will always be some car that is faster or more exotic. Might as well just enjoy what the builder incorporated and get on with the ride. Besides the view out that windshield is the same for a Ferrari or my pickup truck. It is the experience not the appearance that makes it fun.” This also applies to CDing.
Four years ago I had a professional photoshoot. It made a HUGE difference in my confidence and skill levels. It showed me what could be, and then my experimentation to achieve the same results began. It took me a couple of years because I dress only once a week, sometimes less. But I never gave up. You too can achieve something better than you fear is your limits. Oh sure some of those limits can’t be changed. I wish, FOR CDING ONLY, that my shoulders were smaller, my torso was smaller, that my face was more feminine, my legs thinner, I was thinner and a bit shorter. But women come in all sizes so in reality it doesn’t reduce my enjoyment of the experience.
At that photoshoot I told the photographer that I thought maybe using the pictures as a way to promote The Group would make it easier to get more members. He told me that in his experience looking really good had the opposite reaction. Gals would stay away because they would think they weren’t looking good enough.
People, if I went with that there would never have been a Grand Illusions Group. Never been the OUTings. Never have helped so many transpersons find themselves. I wouldn’t have had so much FUN. The GPs at the venues we go to wouldn’t have had the “trans in the room” experience. The peope who stop me in the mall, at the clubs, and grill me with polite but probing questions about the co-worker, guy next door, nephew, uncle, son, daughter, I would have never been of help to them! You have probably seen my FB posts, my other blogs. You may have seen the posts of other gals who have found fun from The Grand Illusions. If I had stayed home because I don’t look as good as ____________________ (insert name here), then maybe none of this would have happened. Certainly I would have missed out on FOUR years of FUN. Beginning back when I didn’t look good.
GET OUT! Join us! Have Fun!
(Why no pictures this time? I felt that posting only my later photos and not putting any of them from near my beginning would be ineffective. And you are NOT going to see the pictures of me from when I began because they look terrible! Even when I went OUT! But I did and I learned and here I am. And I had FUN getting here!)
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