Most of my life has been spent searching. Searching for friends, searching for partners, searching for a job… Ultimately, I have been searching for a purpose. I have grasped desperately for an explanation for my existence. Before I turned 17, I had been baptized twice: once as a child and again when I was 15 or 16. In high school, I fell into a pit of depression and anxiety from which I saw no escape. I wanted so badly to believe in a god, but the Christian God, I decided, was not listening to me. I turned to Wicca, inspired by a love of nature and all things metaphysical. But the Earth Goddess would not hear my cries either. Until recently I called myself a Buddhist because I saw it as a religion for the self, for searching within and finding understanding, or enlightenment. And still I was not satisfied.
Before entering college, I convinced myself to finally settle on a career path, as many teenagers do. After all, no one wants to waste time and money waffling about. As a kid I chased the dream of becoming a detective; I was intimidated after learning about police academy. In middle school I wanted to write novels, but reality told me to accept that I would struggle against the endless waves of aspiring authors. I took a computer science and robotics class in high school before realizing I lacked the technological know-how to become a robotics programmer. Briefly, I wanted to study massage therapy before looking at the salary gave me cold feet. And now, I have come back around to writing: I have always had a passion for it, but this time from a journalistic angle. And yet, that part of me that has been searching and yearning still hungers for something more.
In the end, I’m just another soul looking for a meaning, for my “calling” in life. Who am I? Who do I want to be? Who am I actually becoming? In my life I have doubted and hated myself for reasons I cannot change. I have hated myself for being depressed and anxious. I have hated myself for trying to find my true self and accept myself as I am: a transgender man. As a teen, I went through different names and identities before finally I recognized that I didn’t want my femininity after all. But society showed me that the cisgender partners I so desired only wanted “real” men, that my body parts were revolting and incorrect. So then I came up with a plan for my life: I would sleep around with anyone who didn’t mind the incongruency between my gender and my sex; I would drink and do drugs as much as needed to stave off the anxieties of life; and then, when I turned 40, I would take my own life. Happy birthday, right? I feared growing older and being alone because I thought that I was unlovable.
But in December 2016, I met a gay cisgender man who didn’t mind, who supported me, and we’re still together today, a blessing that I didn’t always believe I deserved. Today, I consider myself fortunate to be comfortable in my masculinity, but I absolutely can’t say that this transition has been easy, because society all too often strips transgender folks of our pride and spits on our identities. I told myself just a few weeks ago that I was tired of running and hiding, that it was exhausting to pretend to be someone that I’m not, because I am not nor will I ever be cisgender. I’ve always told myself that this was for the best because as a transgender man I have had to learn what it means to be a man, how to be and how not to be a man. I am still learning and growing, and I have said and done things in the past of which I am ashamed and hope never to repeat. I can never be perfect, just like any other imperfect person trying to be the “best” version of themselves.
So yes, I agree to an extent that “the main interest in life” is to be someone you weren’t in the beginning, if you have room to improve yourself or to find your authentic self. What makes life worthwhile, what gives all of us some piece of meaning and purpose, is that we are in constant change, and yet we find ourselves at the end of it all. Throughout our lives we will hurt ourselves and others. We will be disappointed and disappointing. And despite it all, our true characters will shine through in how we learn, improve, and mold our true selves. Perhaps it isn’t necessary to know yourself fully; I sure don’t and I likely never will. But to take pride in who you really are is more than enough.