I have a very hard time talking about my issues, especially when it comes to gender. I have been by people close to me and my own family that I cannot be anything but a girl, that I cannot change my name, that I can’t be nonbinary. Hearing those things, especially when it’s constant and from people who matter to you, is really difficult. And although I have left some of those people, and my parents are accepting of my gender, I still can’t escape it from my some. Most importantly, I can’t escape the horrible thought my mind clings to that my lack of a gender is just a lie I tell to get attention, and the feeling that I am not allowed to talk about it because I have been trained through experience to know that if I do, I will be shamed for it.
But now, I am going to a group designed especially for those who are trans. In less than an hour, I am going to be sitting with other people like me, who want to hear my experiences and want to help me. This should be something to be excited about, right? I should feel excited!
But all I feel is anxiety. Horrible, gut wrenching anxiety. Because I am afraid to talk about this. I’m afraid that they will laugh and say I am not “trans enough” because I am nonbinary, or that they will say agender isn’t real. I’m afraid I will go there and hear the same things I have heard for the past three years since I came out. Because of this fear, I’m hiding in my room, typing this under a pile of weighted blankets. I don’t want to go.
But I am.
Because I know my anxiety is a liar. I know that this group will be full of accepting, caring, loving individuals who will respect my pronouns, love my name, listen to my story, and will help reassure me that I’m valid. I know I will hear their stories, and that I will be able to help them too, by being an accepting, caring, and loving individual for them. I know that they will be able to understand, and they will help me understand myself.
And I’ve realized, huddling beneath approximately 30 pounds of weight, that my anxiety just gives me an advantage. I know that the people in this group have likely heard the same exact things I have heard. I know they may have internalized it to. So knowing my anxiety, knowing what I fear, I can now know what to say and how to respond in the way that will help the other members. Because of my fears, I know what I need, and so I can provide it for them.
So yes, anxiety sucks. Yes, I’m still going to be a wreck of worry walking into that building, and yes, I’m still going to be worried about the same things I’m worried about right now. Yes, that all sucks. I’m not saying it doesn’t.
But I know how to fix it. I know how to fix it for others, and if I do that, then they can do it for me. So thank you anxiety, for giving me the tools to support others. I’ll appreciate it once I get there.