Every now and then: IDENTITY

‘Every now and then’ is a section that asks sisters and misters to turn what they know now about a topic, into advice for their younger self. Think Agony Aunt, but it’s your agony, and you are also the aunt. So multitasking. PPZ’s pom perfect contributors will juggle their past and their present, their little follies and their thought victories, their insecurities and their new found think-y freedom to celebrate growing UP and calming DOWN. Because looking back and reflecting is what we all should do, every now and then.

In keeping with PPZ’s GODDESS campaign for Sisters Inside Inc, the theme of this month’s ‘every now and then’ is IDENTITY!!

Jacinta, high school student, 15 

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What I know now about (my) identity :
When I was younger, I not only felt different but looked different too. I was a lot taller and chubbier than everyone else in my grade. And there’s always been this unspoken assumption that big equaled invincible, and because of this, people treated me differently, like I had no feelings. So when I was ten, I started going for a run everyday to lose weight. I still do it today, but the only thing that has changed, is now I don’t care about what other people think about me. Because the only person’s opinion of myself that I should care about is my own.

And because of this… 
I’d tell my ten year old self (if I could) that no one actually cares about anyone else but them self, especially in school. It doesn’t matter what you look like. No one cares. Just be yourself.

Sebastien, Imaging tech, 19 (but sort of an awkward 13 after 6 months of twoberty)

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What I know now about (my) identity :
My name’s Sebastien, and I’m a 19 year old boy with manky facial hair, poorly-concealed body odour, and a vagina. I might be a boy, but I was born–and lived 17 years as–a girl. One of my most clear memories whilst growing up, is just trying to fit in. I never really ‘clicked’ with other girls, but was seen as an antisocial freak when I tried to hang out with my brother’s friends. I thought that in order to shake the bullies, I would have to conform. So I tried high heels, lipstick, dresses… The whole deal, in search of my niche. Nothing really seemed to make me comfortable. I was pretty, I suppose, but I was never ‘me’.

Years passed and horizons broadened, and I gradually came to accept that the cause of my feeling different was there all along; I am a boy. I am female, but I was born in the wrong body; There must have been a mix-up in the womb. I don’t blame anyone; It was just a mistake. But, I am a boy. My transition has helped me understand that sometimes being different is okay. There are always going to be bullies who will look down on me for my transition, and I’m going to have to live with their opinions. On the opposite end of that spectrum, however, my story has inspired people. People come to me seeking advice, and consolation. I’m constantly making little discoveries and reaching personal milestones, and growing more and more happy as the journey unfolds.

And because of this… 
If I were able to tell my younger self anything, I’d tell him to just be brave. Wait it out; These awkward years will shape you, and you’ll have the opportunity to learn more about the world than most. It’s going to be difficult, and it’s going to be difficult for a long time, but it does get easier.

I am so thankful for the exposure that the transgender community has been gaining recently. It’s not something about which many people talk, or even know, and ignorance isn’t necessarily bliss in this case. It certainly wasn’t for me. The sooner we understand, the sooner people like me can find happiness.

Mel, Masters student: Publishing and Communications, 22

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What I know now about (my) identity :
That it’s a composite of everyone and everything I’ve come across, experienced and thought; that it’s constantly shifting; and that it’s shaped as much (if not more so) by the way I think, as it is by my cultural background.

And because of this… 
I’d tell my 16-year old self that it’s okay to be inconsistent and to fail to meet people’s expectations. As clichéd as this sounds, I’d tell her not to worry too much about what people think, because your identity isn’t and shouldn’t be defined by others (and they’re probably too busy to care much anyway). It’s completely normal to not know what you want, and to feel that your emotions and opinions are changing every other day. I really like this quote from Walt Whitman, so I’ll leave it here as food for thought: ‘Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)’

Words by Jacinta, Sebastien and Mel
Self portrait by Sebastien 
Collage images by Anna

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