Well I sure am glad that one’s over. 2016 - that is. What a year it has been. I have been using the holiday break to do some serious reflecting, and it is wild to think about where I was last year at this time compared to where I am today. It has been a real journey of a year with some extreme highs and lows. I’m going to start this post, the first one of the new year, by reflecting on my year of monthly challenges and blog posts.
Challenges: No drinking, and work out 4x/week
Reflections: I always love sober month. This is an annual January challenge, and I look forward to it again this year. I gave all of the dresses and skirts I owned to my younger sisters. I hadn’t worn any of them in an entire year. I also came out as genderqueer.
Challenges: No Sweets, and meditate 10 mins/day
Reflections: I was relieved at the response to my coming out about my gender identity. I found it was hard to find the time/remember to meditate. I did have some success with active meditation, however, by commuting without reading or listening to anything. A lot happened outside of my monthly challenges this month. I was student of the month at Bikram Yoga LES and helped create an affirming community art piece at the studio. I began volunteering for HRC by working the annual gala. I got my most visible tattoo - a Keith Haring piece on my forearm. I also took part in the Kirrin Finch Kickstarter video. Finally, we had our first Queer Book Club meeting. QBC is one of the best things to come out of 2016!
Challenges: No material purchases, and oil pull every day
Reflections: I stuck to the challenges very well, and found them a little boring. They were easy to complete, and I felt great about them both. I shaved my legs for the one and only time in 2016, and opened up about how I had stopped shaving my pits and legs in the new year. I walked in a fashion show for Kirrin Finch and Becoming at the LGBT expo at the Javits Center. I also dyed my hair blue.
Challenges: Eat vegan
Reflections: I did not like being a picky restaurant patron, but otherwise enjoyed being vegan. I also found some restaurants that have since become staples. I began going by E, and opened up about being uncomfortable when people used female pronouns when referring to me. I also began getting nervous about summer - mainly finding warm-weather appropriate clothing that I would be comfortable in. Finally, I participated in a Kirrin Finch/Becoming fashion shoot.
Challenges: Journal and throw away/donate one item each day
Reflections: I wrote my first stand-alone gender piece comparing my gender identity journey to adolescence. I reflected a lot about the ways that my genderqueerness came out when I was younger, and all of the confusion that came along with it. I also wrote a piece reiterating my desire to be called E and be referred to by E instead of gendered pronouns.
Challenges: No lying, and read for 15 minutes per day
Reflections: I was unable to accomplish these goals, but did learn a lot about the situations in which I lie and why I choose to do it. Making concessions for groups, delaying conversations until a more appropriate time and lying for the sake of surprises are, in my opinion, acceptable reasons to lie. I also walked in Rainbow Fashion Week for Nik Kacy Footwear. This was an emotional month with pride and the Orlando shooting - something I could not write about.
Challenges: No ordering food, and work out for at least 20 minutes per day
Reflections: I did some reflecting this month on the ways that I had changed since coming out about my gender identity. I stopped painting my nails, wearing any makeup, shaving, wearing feminine clothing, my name and my pronouns (at this point I had come around to, and begun to prefer “they/them/their). I also started chest binding this month, and have done it ever since. I also became embarrassingly obsessed with Pokemon Go. Finally, I completed my first significant solo-hike, and took a camping trip where I got to see fireworks from the top of a mountain. It was awesome.
Challenges: No swearing, and focus on building my social media presence
Reflections: I didn't have much to say about these challenges. My attentions were elsewhere. August and September are the most stressful months of the year at work.
Challenges: No drinking, and 21-day-fix
Reflections: I wrote about something that I am often reminded of: how easy it is to fall out of good habits. I go through loops around eating well and taking care of myself, then sliding into unhealthy habits, rinse and repeat. I felt wonderful after these two challenges. I also began writing for Effort-Lez and joined the planning committee for the HRC Greater NY annual gala as the silent-auction co-chair. I also did another Kirrin Finch photoshoot and launched my website (now the host of this blog) GenderQueer.com.
Challenges: No drinking except weekends/holidays, and clean my room every night before bed
Reflections: I had a very tough month. I was very sick for the first two weeks. I also struggled with anxiety and depression, and wrote a bit about it. This is something I’m still working on/learning how best to manage.
Challenges: No technology for 30 minutes before bed, and trying different yoga classes
Reflections: No technology was a great challenge. It was easier than I thought and helped me regain some of my healthy evening habits. I did not try yoga classes, but I joined the gym by my house. I went on another camping trip to a state park I had never been to which was gorgeous, and a lot of fun. It was also election month, so it was another emotional, difficult month.
Challenges: No social media
Reflections: Taking a break from social media was one of the best challenges of the entire year. I ended up resorting to it twice, once to invite people to an event and once to accept some friend requests, but those were barely even significant. It is funny to reflect on, because even though it’s only been a month I feel so far removed form it. I could go back to social media full-force today, in the new month, but I’m not even interested in it. It has been so refreshing to spend so much less of my day looking at/scrolling through my phone. I do sometimes find myself resorting to my phone in moments of boredom, but instead of social media I was playing games or catching up on the news. I also began the month feeling disconnected and worried that I was missing important things, but that feeling diminished as the month went on. It was also interesting to notice all of the times that social media comes up in face-to-face interactions. Many times people referenced and/or showed me posts or photos from social sites. I imagine I will slowly get back to using social media as much as I did before I took this break, but I am glad to be reminded that it is something I could easily live without. This month I also became a part of the HER NYC team! I will be working with an awesome group of folks to put on queer events! The best thing to happen this month? MY LITTLE SISTER GOT INTO STANFORD!!! I'm so proud of and excited for her :)
It is so nice to have an entire year of blog posts to reflect on. I can’t believe what a different place I am in right now compared to this time last year. This year brought some of the biggest changes I have ever experienced. My favorite thing about looking back on this year, is that I actually have to be reminded what a hard time I was having with my gender identity at the beginning. At this point, I am E more than ever before. I have communicated about my pronouns, and more and more people are referring to me in gender neutral ways. A lot of my extended family even started calling me E - and I didn’t even ask them to! I am so grateful. I also have a much easier time communicating and having conversations about my gender. The biggest difference between my relationship with my gender identity then and now, is that I think about it way less. It is so engrained, feels so normal, and is more widely accepted/understood now that I am not often stressed by it. There are still some significant challenges in my future, this I know. It is nice though that this first part of my journey is over. The part that requires a significant amount of introspection, questioning, confusion and vulnerability. I am so grateful for the support I have received over this really tough year, and look forward to a wonderful 2017. I will continue doing my monthly challenges and posts, and may be repeating some of my favorite challenges from this past year.
My challenge this month will be completing The Whole 30 (which includes being sober). I have been intrigued by this idea for a while now, and am excited to take on this challenge. The general idea is that you eliminate the foods that commonly cause digestive or other health issues for 30 days. In this case, it is no dairy, no processed sugar, no grains, no corn, no legumes, and no alcohol. I may have missed one or two, but you get the idea. After the 30 days, you are in a good place to slowly reintroduce things into your diet one at a time, and get a better sense of how your body reacts to them. This is the perfect challenge for January, because I have the benefit of being energized by the new year. My whole 30 starts tomorrow, January 2.
Alright, 2017. Here we go.
Thank you for reading. I love you.