*Listen to the podcast attached as well as read the below post to hear the most of my story possible. While post and podcast episode are nearly identical, there are unique aspects to each*
I was around the age of eleven when I became dissatisfied with my gender and who I was.
WOW. Saying that aloud is hard.
If you are reading this, you are one of the first people to know this. I have told nearly no one, including family and friends, and admitting this is like both a weight off my shoulders as well as a new weight on. Freedom because this was me as a tween and into my teens, the brokenness and fractures and all, and yet I know some may picture me differently.
Growing up as a conservative Christian, these feelings were both foreign and struck me with a sense of disgust and fear. Disgust because I had always been taught that these types of feelings were wrong, and fear because I could never admit them to anyone without being judged, possibly shunned, and looked at with the same disgust that was on my face when I gazed in the mirror.
Growing up I always felt unattached to girls as friends, a late bloomer who didn’t enjoy talking about boys or makeup or the gossip about who had done what. Instead I played football in the backyard, wore my hair short, and found it easier to keep conversation with the guys. A leader, independent to a fault who didn’t cry when she accidentally got a black eye in capture the flag, it was easier for me to earn the respect of boys.
I remember writing in my journal that I thought that I should have been a boy, that it would have been easier that way, that maybe I would fit in. I was a fierce feminist from an early age, perking up when anyone wanted to talk about equal rights and women being treated the same as a men.
And then I began to notice girls — as in notice how I liked holding hands with one of my friends who was a girl and wanted to kiss her.
I was probably eleven.
I was unfamiliar with the terms, “coming out” or “homophobic” and gays were rarely talked about in church, but I knew that my emotions were going against how I had been raised. I didn’t know what to do with the feelings or why people looked at me differently if I wore boy’s basketball shorts and t-shirt. And I didn’t understand why girls like me were called gay just because they had what culture calls, “masculine tendencies, ” like being independent or leaders who weren’t interested in makeup or sparkles and unicorns. (Though I did have a huge love for The Little Mermaid).
Culture says do you, be you…and then when you do that says, “wait a moment; you don’t fit that box — here’s another.”
I was told that I needed to check all the normal feminine qualities to be seen as a girl. I placed value in being self-sufficient, having all the answers, refused to lose to a boy, was fiercely competitive, feared being vulnerable, and the list goes on. However, Culture told me that being different wasn’t right, that I needed to step out of my designed box . Culture said that I needed to be someone else if I was going to be different.
Fast forward to me now, twenty two years old: I am Kara. My same-sex attraction faded by the time I graduated high school as I grew confident in who I was made to be, and as I began to love my body in the best way possible.
I began to love who I was and what parts of my character made me unique.
I had spent so much of my childhood looking in the mirror and seeing a mistake, in seeing a person who needed to change. It wasn’t until I began to love the creation that I was, that I was able to move forward. I don’t have to have big boobs or lots or curves. I don’t need to wing my eyeliner perfectly or hide that some of my easier friendships are with guys. I don’t have to pretend I know how to flirt or try and wear feminine colors.
The world gave me a box but I refused to climb into it.
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.Psalm 149
I hope to one day raise strong daughters who are empowered to conquer the world regardless if they like pink or not. I want to raise sons who can be emotional and still be considered strong, who don’t have to like sports, who maybe enjoy Bath and Body Works and housekeeping and still be considered men.
Overtime I saw the flaw in my emotions — I was trying too hard to change who I was to fit in. I thought maybe if I was different, I would like myself more, that if I was a male or followed my emotions, maybe then I would be happy.
Instead, I fell further and further away from loving myself as God intended. Instead, I was condemning the body I am housed in, telling it to change in order to avoid being seen as different.
I will go into detail about why I believe this in a later post, so I will end here: One day I WILL raise my children in a way that teaches them to celebrate their differences, to love their bodies in the best was possible, to teach them that they shouldn’t have to change their likes and dislikes or personality to fit in a certain checked box. These are the warriors of tomorrow: the people who embrace who they are, who love their design and don’t look in the mirror and see a mistake.
Because I sincerely believe that you and I are no mistake, that we are here for a tried and true purpose, one that doesn’t end. I believe that you are best just the way you are and that you shouldn’t jump into a box just because, “you’re different.”
This is counterculture.