This is going to be one of those posts where I will probably get accused of being narcissistic again because of the number of photos (whatever – don’t care!). I like the pictures above, they are in reverse order going from fully dry hair, to partially dry, to still wet while finishing getting ready.

I went back to my naturally curly hair after keeping it straight for a week and noticed something. I get “noticed” a lot more with my curly ‘big’ hair. I went to a Meijer store for some groceries in the outfit above. Whether the glances and stares I received are because people were clocking me as trans, wondering why someone my ‘age’ was wearing short shorts, or because they were more about appreciating my body, or my appearance (i.e. big curly hair is definitely not the norm for women of my age and skin tone in this suburb).. I have no idea. The key is, I can now just glance back, offer a quick smile and they are the ones to usually look away. (Ha! Caught Ya!) It is empowering to be the one to get someone else to look furtively away.

When I first began being able to be myself in public, it used to be that if I was getting a lot of looks like that I would hurry up my shopping or whatever I was doing and make my way out of the area. I would be staring at my phone as I shopped whether I had a shopping list on it or not. If I caught someone’s eye by accident, I would look away. 

Thankfully, now I just do what I need to do, I take my time and I do not get nervous. I can’t tell you exactly when my self confidence flipped so drastically, but it has a lot to do with the amazing group of women that I am now friends with. Spending time out with them and constantly being made to feel like I belong has done wonders for me. I love those girls. 

If you are saying, “lucky, wish I had a group like that.” Well, you probably can to be honest. I found mine by using Meetup.com. I started joining groups in my area that I was interested in and in particular I messaged the leader of a women only group and asked if she would accept a transgender woman. She did not hesitate in her positive response. This was a year and a half ago. Yes, it took a lot of beating down of social anxiety for me to show up to that first sushi night with the women’s group, but once I made it there I have never looked back. These days if I do not have a full social calendar I feel like I am wasting precious time. My pool of friends comes from a variety of groups, with men and women who share my interests and my idea of fun. We have connected on Facebook and plan get-togethers outside of official Meetups. We celebrate birthdays and job promotions together, etc. These are now real friends.

This is not a judgement on anyone. I am not saying you have to have a full social calendar to be successful or feel worthy of anything. In my case, it is just new and wonderful to have a large pool of friends that only know the real me and this has helped my confidence immensely. 

My point here is just that it takes time to build confidence. Both time and acceptance from peers are what helped me. I did not just will myself to be this way. However, I did will myself into taking the step of trying new groups and new ways of connecting with people. 

Please try and do the same if you are alone and transitioning like I was.

-Ari

https://arianadanielle.com