3.10.2011

Late Bloomers and Ugly Ducklings


I will be 37 this year. I remember being elated to be out of my 20's but now six and a half years later I am wondering what the hell happened.The thing about ugly ducklings is they are only ugly because they are expected to be one thing but defy expectation and become something else. Transgendered folks are kind of like ugly ducklings trying to be something we aren't, sometimes with devastating consequences. But when we finally figure out who we, are and we allow ourselves to bloom  the results can be magnificent.

Sometimes I feel like I haven't done much with my life because success is often measured by how long a person has held down a job or how much money they make. All too often a person is labeled successful or not  by what he or she does for a living. It has come to a point now that people are defined by what they do. When you meet someone new why is it they always ask what you do for a living? Not about what you are passionate about, what makes your heart beat fast or what you would pursue if you didn't have to work. Knowing what someone does for a living doesn't necessarily tell you anything about them at all. Just because someone is a doctor doesn't mean they are compassionate and kind or even nice for that matter. Sure you can make some likely assumptions about people but just knowing what they do will rarely tell you much.

I have two university degrees but haven't held a job for more than one season in over ten years. People my age have decent jobs usually with benefits, they are planning their retirement, their child's education, where they might like to go on vacation. I will have been at the same place for one whole year come July but I still feel like I am a failure in the eyes of my family.

I have quite a bit of debt accrued from  years of going to school but after only a year I already want to go back. The one thing I love more than anything in the world is being an artist.  Fortunately (or unfortunately) I am really really good at it but to be successful I need to dedicate a lot more time to it– something having a day job doesn't afford me. So I am thinking I might as well return to school and get my MFA and see if I can't become somewhat successful, or at least self sufficient at my chosen profession in five years. I don't need to be rich and I certainly don't want to be famous but being able to set up a studio, have my own house and a little piece of land, a garden, a dog, a wood stove, and a great fishing hole nearby would be all I would want. Just to be able to sustain a comfortable life somewhere close to nature and make art.

I know there are people who make their mark on the world later in life. I would like to think that I fall into that category. I finally feel like I am ready to begin but don't really know where to start. I am trying to make a plan but it seems every few weeks it changes because of all the what ifs and as soon as that happen. I need a few inspirations. I know what I want and now I just have to sort out exactly how to get there.

Transitioning later in life has benefits and setbacks. While I am positive this is the right path for me,  getting here took a lot longer than I might have liked. I try not to think what my life might have been like had I sorted out my identity when I was twenty instead of making poor choices. Although I learned a lot about who I am, many other lessons I learned the hard way. I am ready to set my regrets behind me and move towards success.  I am learning to take control of my own life in part and try not to look to others for approval although this is still difficult. Perhaps once I feel comfortable in my own body, happiness and confidence will return and I will finally feel like I am capable of captaining my own ship, sailing her towards my uncharted destiny. Just because I haven't yet made my mark doesn't mean I don't still have time. Don't count us ugly ducklings out! The next time you see us we might be more beautiful (or handsome) than you ever imagined possible.

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