patience

Being different doesn't get easier.

Being different takes courage. It is a risk. It means moving against the status quo, things are they are and resisting the “norm”.

And over time, the truth is, being different doesn’t get easier.

You just get better at managing what it means to stand out.

This is how and why resilience is so important in a world that constantly pressures us to fit in and conform to a norm that, ironically, doesn’t even actually exist. It’s a concept that takes place in minds but doesn’t actually exist in reality.

And this is good news! Because it doesn’t mean you’re weird or wrong or there’s something wrong with you. It simply means that those people are asleep to what’s actually happening.

Here’s what’s happening: each person is being their unique self (there are over 7.5 billion people on the planet right now and no two people alike, isn’t that CRAZY?!) but within cultural boundaries of what is considered, “good, right, appropriate, etc.” either by explicit laws or cultural rules that are followed.

(If you’ve been following me, you know I’ve been writing about this for the past ten years in all sort of ways. If you’re new to my writing, please check out my 300+ archived posts! There’s a lot of overlap because the same wisdom can be repeated lots of times in different ways.)

So here everyone is, walking around being both unique and “normal” in various ways at the same time.

So it begs the question: what exactly IS normal? And if no one is doing it, who actually IS?!

You see what I’m talking about here.

So being yourself automatically means you’re already different. There’s no such thing as normal or the same so different is just reality. But people who don’t get this keep thinking there’s a “right” and “wrong” way to be or act or live or whatever and heap all those expectations and assumptions into your lap.

And that’s the resistance we feel. That’s why it’s hard to be ourselves, if we’re even clear on what that actually means. (That’s what I help people do, btw)

That resistance shows up in all sorts of ways, time after time, day after day. Messages coming from all angles that we are not fitting other peoples’ expectations.

It’s not like we can broadcast out what we’re doing and have everyone hear it once and for all. So it keeps coming, like waves on the shore. Endlessly. Comments. Critiques. Questions.

You know what I’m talking about.

And that’s why being different doesn’t get easier. Because it never stops, that resistance. But what we do is become more aware of it being an endless experience. And we stop expecting it to stop. We stop expecting it to be easier.

We basically start managing our response to it. We decide to change how it affects us. We shift our mindset to help us negotiate the process of being ourselves in a world full of people who are still trying to figure it out and get the courage to do it themselves.

We eat better. We sleep more. We exercise. We journal. We meditate. We take vitamins. We read books.

We find as many ways as possible to manage the impact of trying to be different in a world full of SAMENESS that is really difference in disguise. Or disillusioned sameness.

I’ll leave this deep thought trajectory right here and just come back to reassure you that YOU ARE PERFECT as you are. DIFFERENT is cool. BE YOURSELF and find a new way today to manage how people resist your brilliance because it doesn’t get easier. It’s on you to build the muscle that makes it better, one day at a time.

My mom and me.

“Will you send that to me? It’s one of the best pictures of me since I don’t remember when.” 

My mom said this today. This is us smiling. She came to visit me for the first time since I moved back home to New Jersey a year ago today. It’s one of two pictures we’ve taken together in almost a decade. It was a great day.


For most of my life, my mom and I had a very difficult relationship. I never understood why but she said today, “we are more alike than different, I think that’s why we butt heads.” She’s probably quite right. Our sensitivity and empathy run deep as does our impatience. It’s the Irish maybe. 


My father left her with my sister, who was a toddler about to turn 3 years old, and me when I was 3 months old. He left his wedding ring in the dresser during a business trip. My mom found it and called him out while home alone with us. Then he left for good. My mother never went to college. She didn’t have a safe or comfortable home life. She hauled us both in her car and got food stamps until she could figure out another plan. That is her version of the story. I’m sure my dad has his. I may never hear it because he’s been pretty M.I.A. except for a few years when he really was great.

My mom is the one who fought through her pain and confusion and grief to make peace with my decision to transition my gender identity in 2012. It’s taken us six years to be able to hang out and smile like this together. Six years and a lot of work and growth on both sides. During brunch today, I saw my mother as a completely new and different person for the first time in my 40 years on this planet. It felt like time stopped.

This post is a short version of the long story of my mom and me.

This picture exposes the tenacious love and compassion we have for ourselves and each other. All I am I learned from this woman. I’m the mirror that reflects her. She’s so afraid of life but she’s a warrior. She’s the inspiration for all I do in my own life, leaving nothing unexplored and being brave beyond all limits. She conquered a big fear coming to visit me today. I’m fearless from her example.

This is my mom and I’m who I am because she’s who she is. Perfectly her.

Why I stay on social media

(In case you needed another person's opinion about this...)

I'm relieved that more and more people I respect and admire are calling out the BULLSHIT that is social media. 

But I'm not quitting and here's why. Because I have a business that depends on people being able to see and access me for coaching support, I don't have the privilege to just put my head in the sand and pretend I don't approve of or like what I see happening out in the world. I mean, I DO have that privilege but I'm not exercising it. People need me (or at least I like to think or hope they do) and they can't find me to get help if I'm hiding in my transman cave with a sign hanging outside that says, "I just couldn't. Even."

It doesn't mean that I don't feel that way but if I can't even then why am I in the business of helping move society along another notch on the evolution spectrum? That's why I'm here and that's the work I've chosen (do we really choose it if it's a calling?) so I can't stand in integrity and simultaneously bury my head in the sand.

Social media is just our reality reflected back to us and if we can't face it that's the real problem to address. Acknowledging what we like or dislike about what we see is the real work of life. It's called adulting. It's called maturity.

What's even better? Acknowledging we don't like something while also realizing and respecting that the world doesn't revolve around our likes and dislikes. And even better than that?? Realizing that our likes and dislikes are all just our attempt to feel more control so we can avoid feeling like crap so we don't have to be responsible for doing anything to change.

Still with me?

I'm also here because I don't see many people like me around. There are a lot of heterosexual, cisgender, white, upper-middleclass, able-bodied people sharing their opinions and perspectives right now. They have done the hard work of writing books or getting themselves and their work out there and they are doing a lot of good.

After spending more time than I'd like to admit being jealous of their privilege compared to the hand I've been dealt, I've chosen to overcome that way of being and just do me. There is a lot to say about that and I don't wax (too) philosophic here, but suffice it to say that there are many ways to inspire people and off of us deserve a place and we are all invited to the table to share our gifts with the world. But we need to accept the invitation and overcome whatever is blocking us. And that will be different for each of us. And that's called l-i-f-e. OK, more on that later.

Listen, there are plenty of reasons why I tried (more than once) to turn and run from social media. I wasn't raised with this shit and struggle to manage the adjustment to the tsunami of information. Most of what I see makes me question the lease I signed to belong to the human race. But not wanting to face or deal with it doesn't change it from existing. It also doesn't change the reality that it's all been going on for centuries. 

It sucks to realize that we won't fix it in this generation or the next. There's no app for that.

But what if we used social media and all it offers us to focus on how we feel about what we see and what we want to do about it. What if we courageously faced the black mirror and chose to deal with it in better ways? What if we decided to be the change we want to see in the world and didn't post a goddamn meme about it but actually LIVED OUR LIVES from that place? I stay on social media for that reason. It reminds me how far I've come and how far I still have to go. It reminds me to stay humble. It reminds me that my bubble is small and the world is wide and my pinprick of significance matters to mostly no one but it does matter.

Yes, like my pal Paul Jarvis, the positivity/inspiration memes drive me a little nuts. I still post them, despite, because my clients and followers "like" them and I try to think that a few nice words help them through a challenging moment. But I worry that they too often live vicariously through my inspiration and don't take action to change anything in their lives. 

And action, my friends, is what creates change. But sometimes feeling positive and inspired is what precedes action, and so I keep posting those memes. I post and hope that more people will take action so we can stop wanting the world to change and start seeing and experiencing it ourselves.

And, I mean, come on. Some of the shit people make is funny. 

 

I feel a sense of obligation to stay on social because I like to think my presence matters especially because I stand for two things that society continues to struggle with: health and self-acceptance. If my visibility helps one person make a move in one of those two areas, then it's worth it. Best-case scenario is we all use our presence to make each others' lives better but we can all see from comment threads and trolls just how far we are from that goal. One day at a time. 

For better or worse, society has evolved in this way and it's teaching us a lot about ourselves--more than we were learning before the Pony Express and then telegraphy and then chat rooms and so on.

Like I said, I have the privilege to delete my apps and accounts in a fit of "I quit this place" but it would really mean I'm trying to quit the reality of life as it is. And that's not an option for me, despite the thoughts that tempt me from time to time. And it's the smiling faces of my friends and those goddamn inspiring memes that positively override the negative thoughts and I try to pass that inspiration along as best I can.

Dealing with life, becoming more patient and tolerant and trying to make a difference are some reasons why I stay on social. What about you?