I graduated from high school five years ago, and since I currently live in the Twin Cities, I’m going to the five-year reunion, which is in less than a month. To be honest, I’m not quite sure how I feel about this reunion — I’m really not who I was five years ago, even though I sometimes revert back to that when I’m around high school people. The reunion will certainly be interesting. At least parts of it will undoubtedly be awkward. But I don’t think it will be bad: the people with whom I graduated were nice people. I may not have much in common with many of them now, but they’re good people, and the reunion might be fun.
Part of me (okay, a lot of me) wishes that the reunion were a few months later. I would feel a lot more confident after top surgery (and, preferably, a few more months on T) — it would probably make things more awkward (after all, I went to a Catholic, all girls school), but I’d feel better about it. I don’t want to look like one of the girls; I don’t want to look like I did when we went to school together.
Even more than that, I don’t want to revert back to who I was in high school, and I have a real tendency to do just that. Also, of the three high school friends to whom I am closest, none of them will at the reunion. One is at law school in L.A. (and not from my year), and the other lives close enough that he could attend, but he also wasn’t in my year and so obviously won’t be there. The latter is also the one around whom I revert the least (How I Met Your Mother calls it “revertigo” — I feel like we don’t experience that as much together). The third is my best friend from high school, and she’ll be in Chicago still.
There’s also a little bit of anxiety that comes from comparing myself to my former classmates, as much as I try not to do that. According to Facebook, one classmate is getting her Master’s at Stanford; another is in med school in D.C.; yet another is a guide leading mountain climbing expeditions. Right. Of course, none of them are going to be at the reunion.
It’s not that I want to be doing any of that. (Med school? Mountain climbing? Really not my style.) It’s just that societal standards for “success” are difficult to shake. It’d be different, perhaps, if I were doing something I found challenging and rewarding, something in which I really believed. Professionally, that is — as far as I’m concerned, transitioning is challenging, rewarding, and something in which I deeply believe, but I can’t exactly answer the question of “So, what are you doing now?” with “Transitioning.”
If I were in Chicago, I’d be fine with saying that I’m being 23 in Chicago. Working retail or restaurant work or whatever, but basically just enjoying being young and gender-fabulous with my friends (and hopefully doing lots of fierce activism and organizing). It’s easier to buck societal pressures and expectations as to what you “should” be doing when your friends are as well (and when what you are doing is living your life how you want to be living).
In a way, the five year seems a little silly — we’re not that far out of college, and not even all of the local people will be there. Why does this feel like such a stressful event? Why am I putting pressure on myself about it?
I graduated with honors from an excellent college. I interned with a life-changing law project and fell in love with Chicago. I came out to everyone as trans, legally changed my name, started hormones, and scheduled top surgery. I’ve got a job with a Fortune 500 company that includes gender identity in its diversity statement — a job that, while rather awkward politically and unfulfilling emotionally, allows me to do things like pay for top surgery (and is stable, which is huge in this job market). I’m close to my family; I have good friends; I’m in good health. I’m teaching myself to play guitar; I’m beginning to write a book; I’m writing a blog that continues to grow in readership. And now that I think of it, all of that has happened within the past year (well, 16 months or so).
Overall, life is good. I don’t need to stress about this reunion — who will be there, how I’ll appear, what people will think of me. If they think I’m a girl, I can’t help that. If they think I’m violating their god’s rules, I don’t actually care all that much. If I’m not fully who I usually am while I’m at the reunion, well, there’s no point in beating myself up about that. It will be what it will be.