How I Managed my Confused Femininity as a Teenager
Photo by Omar Alnahi on Pexels
I have three brothers and no sisters. When I was a young child, I used to play with my brothers and their friends. Thus, most of my brothers’ friends also became friends of mine. During my childhood it was not a problem for me to be the only girl in the crew, but as I am getting older ―especially during my teenage years, I became obsessed about not having girls as friends. At the same time, I was experiencing loneliness, because all my friends (who are boys) started to have girlfriends and didn’t let me play with them anymore. I started to become depressed. At school, no one wanted to talk to me, neither boys nor girls. The girls thought that I was too masculinized and bullied at me instead of helping me.
I wanted to be more “feminine” so that I could get integrated in school. I didn’t know how to start, then I was confused. It was a very awkward feeling. I wasn’t a boy, neither did I identify myself as nonbinary or transgender; but people didn’t see me as a perfect girl. I was sure that I was a girl. I did love boys and wanted to have boyfriends like the other girls. Sometimes, I saw some boys that I really loved, but they chose other girl over me. Even though I was a cute little girl, but I was not totally “feminine”. Their fear was not about being with me, but it was about them being with a boyish girl. They didn’t want to lose their masculinity and be criticized by their crew. However, I wanted them to tell me that I was beautiful, bright, and lovely as they did for the other girls. As most teenagers, I wanted to be loved…
I Became a Negation of Gender Expectations, but still a Girl
Paradoxically, in my early teenage years, the boys were more tolerant with me than the girls. Even though they were not willing to love me as a girl, but they did respect me and considered me for more than just my appearance. They also used to team up with me when it was about homework or when they wanted to revise for exams. But the girls? Never. The important thing for them was my appearance. My lack of knowledge about “girlish stuffs” (maquillage, fashion, hairstyle, etc.) made me turn into a real jerk. Maybe I was more confused than I thought and, as a result, I found rudeness when there wasn’t any, and distanced myself from all the girls, when only some would tease me. Anyway, when I made effort to talk to some girls, I couldn’t spend a day without them telling me that I would never find a boy who loves me, and I was not a girl. As an answer to such comments, I used to whisper: “I am just a girl who has chosen to express her “femininity” elsewhere.” Everyone must foster their own confidence, mustn’t we? No one will do it for us. Then, realizing this, I found a great sentence to help me convince myself that I was a special girl.
“As a child I felt myself to be alone, and I am still, because I know things and must hint at things which others apparently know nothing of, and for the most part do not want to know.”
― Carl Gustav Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections
Photo by Tim Hüfner on Unsplash
Did I Choose My Uniqueness?
Most people thought I was strong, but I wasn’t. I knew how to fake being confident when I was in public. I used to pretend to be an amazing girl and smile all the time, although I was generally unhappy and anxious. Each moment I spent alone was a fierce internal struggle, in which I visualized my future life falling apart. I was even more concerned about my adulthood than I was about my youth. I felt that my lack of real relationships as a teenager would affect my success in life. I thought that I would never be strong enough to overcome my social anxiety. I was ashamed for not being able to make people around me consider me as friend.
After effortless strategies to overcome my anxiety, I came to realize that I didn’t choose to be alone; it did choose me because I couldn’t escape it. I felt that this burden was carrying me, instead of me carrying it. I couldn’t get away from the guiltiness of me being myself. Sometimes this feeling manifests itself as tears, then I saw them running over my cheeks and entering my mouth like a river, but they were always as salty as an ocean. I wasn’t happy for not being girlish: I was in a frightened jail and the real danger was outside of the bars. Neither outside nor inside was a perfect place for me. I reached to the point where I thought I was too weak to be myself, then I just wanted to adapt perfectly to the ideal girl that people needed me to be. Maybe more than anyone, I wanted to blend in with the girls of my community. Thereupon, like most girls, I felt it was necessary for me to have people’s approval in everything in life, even the most personal ones.
Not Being totally Girlish didn’t Make Me any Worst
As I entered my 16, I became aware that the beautiful girls were not very happy as I thought. Most of them were having bad relationships and were exploited by their so-called partners at a very young age. Besides, as most of them were in secret relationships, they couldn’t explain anything to their parents, neither would they get advice from other adults. They were lost into an infinite spiral of bitterness, which had them jump from one relationship to another, and try unsuccessfully to adequate themselves to an archetypal beauty. I have also been able to observe that in those friendships to which I couldn’t get access not all the girls were equally considered. Some even let bad things happen to their friends so that they can prove their superiority. The incalculable competitions over beauty led most of the girls to self-hate and anxiety. Therefore, I realized that I didn’t have to be so cynical about not having friends. Besides, some girls even told me that I was in a better place. At that moment, I started to be confident, and tried to understand my feelings as well as the world outside of me.
After having gone through this conflict of personality, I became aware that the society doesn’t expect us to be anything else but what we have predestinated to be as a social individual. The more we want to get rid of these rules, the more works it will take us to be integrated in society. However, sometimes it is worth disobeying the social norms whose main purpose is guaranteeing the inferiority of some groups and transforming others into slaves of their own superiority. Since my teenage years up to now, I have come to observe the feelings of both girls and boys and see how they both suffer for being who they are. I have seen boys forced into discriminating girls because their crew or family said so. I have seen girls who question some boys’ masculinity, when these ones don’t take advantage of their week moment. For me it was a very bad situation, but I feared to talk against it loudly, because the world outside of me couldn’t face their insanity. I have also been able to reposition myself and made it clear that I am not associate with any kind of look, neither a protestation in concrete, but with a deeper and fundamental element which is the freedom to be and the wisdom to let them be. Then I could choose to put on what I feel like if I can afford to. In the end, regardless of the look there would always be people out there to judge. And yet, the more confident you are about breaking the rules, the least people are likely to bully at you.