Self-belief is something that I have always struggled with. I don’t lack self-esteem or self-confidence, but I do lack self-belief – defined as trust in my own abilities. In particular, I don’t trust my ability to make the right choices or decisions for myself.
Life is about choices, decisions, paths taken or not taken, doors opened or closed. As a child I struggled to make choices – I could never decide what dessert to have when we were eating out, so my parents would let me order two, which I would never finish. As a teenager I struggled to make choices about my future, but as this is not uncommon, I didn’t think too much about it. But as an adult, these choices have not become any easier. I know many people who feel this way, so I’m not alone in this. I have often thought that perhaps it would be better to have less choice – but I don’t really believe this. Many choices that I have are luxuries that so many others do not have the opportunity for, so I’m grateful for my circumstance.
However, when it comes to my gender, and making decisions about what to do regarding transitioning, I feel trapped by all the options opened to me. I have a foot down each path, and with each step I take forward, I become more divided. It’s in this situation that I wish I had more self-belief. I can see the benefits and downfalls of each path laid ahead of me, but I cannot bring myself to commit to a single path. I have no self-belief in my ability to make the right decision for myself in order to move forward. I am aware that my dilemma is brought about as a result of privilege and circumstance, and I wouldn’t change this for the world. But I would like to be able to make a choice in some way that will allow me to move forward in my transition.
Recently, keeping in mind my previous commitment not to think about gender too much, I have found my mind settling a little bit more. It’s as though, by not searching, the path is instead illuminating the way ahead for me, bit by bit. This week I came to the realisation that I am not a woman. I know this seems like a silly thing to say, as I define myself as non-binary and transmasculine, but I had still not left behind the “woman” label. Now I have. Although it doesn’t tell me much more other than what I am not, by eliminating some paths, the way ahead becomes less confusing and the choices less varied. I find this calming.
I have come to realise that I rely on other people’s judgement too much. Once I realised this, I started noticing all the ways in which I do this. I ask people’s opinions of a topic, and I find myself swayed by each argument as it comes my way. In any one day I can have as many opinions on a topic as the people who I talk to about it. It’s not a healthy way to approach life so I’m trying not to let people sway me in this way any more. It’s hard, but the more I notice my tendency to change my opinions based on the people around me, the closer I become to finding out what my opinion is. And this, in turn, lends me greater self-belief in my decisions and choices about my identity and my transition.
In my blog about living with depression, colourintodarkness.wordpress.com, I have written about this same topic. Lack of self-belief affects all areas of my life, but I’m hoping that by acknowledging it, I can change it, believe in myself a bit more.