Celebrating the Journey: The Power of Learning About You

June 3, 2024 | Diversity & Inclusion | 4 min read

With much of the emphasis in learning placed on obtaining skills and outside knowledge, it can be easy to forget that learning about yourself is also a journey — one that can last a lifetime.

When I came out as a trans woman over five years ago, I thought the majority of changes to my self-image were behind me. 

After years of struggling with my identity, how I wanted others to perceive me, and endless introspection, I came out. 

I started living life as the real me. 

It’s easy to see why this moment might have had a sense of finality to it. Years of thought and effort had gone into making this one decision, and with it came a distinct before and after that cut my life in two. 

What I didn’t expect was that once you break down barriers to self-examination and actualization, in its place forms a free-flowing path to discovery. Breaking down that barrier gives you agency to continue to learn about yourself and the world around you.

Inside and Out, Learning Never Stops

Learning about yourself is tough. It takes years, it takes effort and it's a process that never stops. 

But as tough as it can be, you are worth learning about

It took years for me to pinpoint the discomfort I was feeling as gender dysphoria, and still more years to accept that I was transgender and seek medical treatment.

For any who’s experienced gender dysphoria, you know how tough it can be to explain it others. Defining it on paper is easier than explaining what living with it is truly like. 

Gender dysphoria is the distress or unease a person feels when their gender identity doesn’t match the sex they’re assigned at birth. The closest I can compare it to is the feeling of writing with your non-dominant hand, except felt everywhere in your body. 

It feels wrong. But it’s difficult to explain why. 

It was hard to explore and learn about these feelings. Painful even. But worth it, and through this journey, it opened my eyes to other areas of my life as well. During this time, I examined how I felt about my gender and gender presentation, but also my sexuality, relationships, and future. 

Once something you thought was a sure thing, like your gender, is proven to be anything but, it's impossible not to question all the other “certainties” in your life. 

Before coming out, I led a life I thought was expected of me. I was pursuing a degree in medicine but realized it wasn’t what I actually enjoyed or wanted for myself. 

Likewise, I had always been attracted to women, and because of the convenience of  heterosexuality, I didn’t consider an attraction to men. However, coming out as trans made it easier for me to explore that attraction and accept my bisexuality. 

Suffice to say, the first step in self-discovery is far and away the hardest. Fear of the unknown and judgement delayed me from making any change for years. But every change after that was easier, and every one made my life better and better. I’ve learned it’s okay to be afraid of the future because fear is often the first step to discovery.

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Learning Is About Testing Boundaries

The makeup of who we are as people is complex. 

We are given a series of boxes to check like man, woman, straight, gay, and so on. Once decided, we aren’t given much room to change. 

We aren’t given permission to test those boundaries and often are actively discouraged from doing so. After a lifetime of this, it’s easy to think that the person you are now is the person you always were and always will be. 

But that’s not the case.

Take for example the acronym “LGBT.” This four-letter acronym that most people are familiar with can now be as long as LGBTQQIP2SAA, with each letter standing for a different identity, life stage or distinguishing feature of a member of the community. 

Where some may see a mess of letters, I see growth and recognition. 

Pride is about growing and changing and knowing that there are others out there who see that change. I give permission and invite anyone reading this to question who you are and what you want. 

Ask yourself: 
  • If I didn’t feel shame for questioning some part of myself — whether that’s gender, sexuality, or anything else — would I make a change? 
  • Which aspects of self are truly engrained in who you are and which are learned? 
  • What future do I want for myself? Is the path I’m leading the one I should stay on? 

The beauty of celebrating Pride is not in saying any one way of being is better than another, but in each person’s discovery of themselves and what’s best for them.

This Pride, take the time to learn about yourself.

It’s worth it.