Ego vs Self-Worth

Ego vs Self-Worth

So I was bored yesterday and found IDRlabs. Then I spent the next few hours doing a million tests. What’s my sexuality? My gender balance? Which Harry Potter house am I? What GoT character am I? What kind of feminist am I? What historical villain am I most like? How racist am I? How high am I on the autism spectrum? What about ADHD? Am I a fascist? A psychopath? A sociopath? Rorschach test. Morality test. And so on. All the tests I did came out as I expected (Ravenclaw and Arya, btw). But something that was mentioned more than I thought was that I have narcissistic traits. So I thought I’d explore that here.

When I think of what a ‘narcissist’ is, I think of it in psychopathic terms. But my test results showed that I wasn’t a psychopath or sociopath. So I’m inclined to take it in the more colloquial way, to mean egotistical. Recalling some of the questions and answers I gave, I’m assuming these results came from my affirmative responses to “I think I am better than everyone else” and “I am special and deserve special attention” and similar questions. This is something that I have touched on before, I do think of myself as different and special, and I am better than, not everyone, but most people. I have more life experience than most people, I am more self aware than most people, I’m more emotionally intelligent than most people, I’m more generally intelligent than most people (I’m referring here to my logic and reasoning skills rather than my formal education), I’m better read than most people, I’m more articulate than most people, I’m more observant than most people, and so on. To be fair though, most people are pretty stupid, so the bar isn’t all that high. So here’s the question, am I narcissistic, or am I just self-assured?

From my perspective, I would say that I’m just aware of my own abilities and lack modesty. I don’t think I’m better than I am, I think I am exactly as good as I am. It just so happens that that is better than most people. I don’t, by any means think that I am flawless. I am well aware of my flaws and try to work on them daily (this practice, incidentally, also makes me better than most people). I suppose it’s also possible that I’m not as good as I think I am, and that I just have delusions of grandeur, but how would I know that? I know that people compliment my ability to grasp complex philosophical theories. I know that others have asked me to teach them things that they didn’t understand. I know that people often describe me as “kind, polite and funny”. I have been told that I am “self-aware” and “emotionally intelligent” by psychiatrists and counsellors. I know that I’m good at logic games and solving puzzles. Again, it’s possible that I’ve been lied to for years by many different people, but how likely is that?

In conclusion, I don’t think I’m particularly narcissistic, I think I just know myself and how I compare to the average person, and I’m open and honest about that, refusing to subscribe to the idea that being modest and talking oneself down, is polite. Maybe that has something to do with my autism, but I think people who think highly of themselves but pretend that they don’t, are simply trying to manipulate you or get the upper hand over you. I prefer to be upfront about things.

Gender Identity

Gender Identity

How I Identify

Last night I dreamt I had a penis. This isn’t an unusual occurrence, I often dream that I have a penis. When I wake up, I have a few moments of phantom limb sensations, then as my full consciousness returns, reality takes hold and I’m left with feelings of loss and emptiness.

I also dream that I have a vagina. I dream that I have a slender body with perfect breasts and smooth hips. I dream about being an icon of femininity, a perfect 10 that draws eyes from across the room. When I wake from these dreams, I am disappointed with the lumpy, bumpy shape that I am and vow (yet again) to do something to change it.

I was born into a female body and, as most females do, I have a number of general insecurities about my body, but I don’t hate my female sex organs.

I have always had a significant amount of “penis envy”. Back in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, before gender identity was a common topic of discussion, I thought my feelings came from growing up with two brothers, being a “tom boy”, and the fact that I generally got on better with boys than girls. Learning a little bit about feminism made me think “Well, of course I want to be a man, life is so much easier for them,” but even now, when I believe this is a woman’s world, I still miss my penis.

The language used to describe the way that people identify, and which pronouns they like to be addressed with, is always changing and adapting and means different things to different people. I often use the term “non-binary” to describe my gender, as that’s generally accepted to mean neither male nor female. However, the term that more truly represents myself is “gender fluid” since I don’t reject being in the binary, I just switch from one to the other. Allow me to explain:

I was born with “normal” female attributes. In fact, as a mature female I have predominant female features. I have an hourglass figure, large breasts and hips, delicate wrists and ankles, an upturned nose and a dimple in my cheek when I smile. I also have long hair and don’t bite my nails which contribute to the female identity, though these are choices and not genetics.

Sometimes I love being female. I will wear makeup, do my hair, put on a well fitting bra and tight top to show off my curves. I enjoy feeling sexy and desirable as a woman. On a deeper level, I love and respect what my female anatomy was designed for. I love that I am able to carry a foetus through development then birth the child through my vagina and feed them from my breasts. That is miraculous to me and I am so grateful to have that capability (even though it means that I have 7/8 day-long, heavy periods).

Sometimes I hate being female. I see my body and cringe before looking away with disgust. I wear sports bras that hold my breasts as flat as possible against my chest. I wear loose, baggy t-shirts and hoodies to disguise any shape that I have. I put on boxers and baggy trousers and sigh deeply for my missing appendage. I do own a “packer” (a synthetic, flaccid penis that can be placed in underwear to simulate the “lump” that men have in their trousers) and I do wear it on the occasions that the loss is particularly painful, just feeling the weight and presence of it between my legs can bring me a little relief, but I’ve not had the nerve to wear it publically yet.

I don’t know how to describe to you the feeling of loss for something that you’ve never possessed. Especially when the thing you’re missing is integral to your understanding of who you are as a person. Call to mind something that is a part of your personality and identity, something that is you, that you could never be without. Now imagine you don’t have that thing, and you can’t even openly express the fact that you miss it because you were never supposed to have it in the first place. Imagine how it would feel to not have the thing that makes you who you are, how lost and unfamiliar you would be.

Operations exist to alter the bodies of males who wish to be females or vice versa, but no doctor would be willing to give a person two sets of genitalia. But I do still suffer with body dysmorphia, so I have to choose whether to remain female and live with the grief of not having a penis, or transition fully to a male and grieve the loss of my female anatomy. I am living in the lose-lose purgatory of gender identity. It is common nowadays to encounter transgender people, and their needs are becoming more openly discussed and met, but there are a plethora of other genders out there who are going underrepresented and who need guidance and assistance to make their bodies more comfortable to live in.

Gender and Sexuality

I don’t know how common this is, as I feel that it is impolite to ask people about their sexuality, but my gender identity and sexuality are intrinsically linked.

I am bisexual and have known so since I was very young. When I first started exploring my sexuality, I thought I was a lesbian since I found that I was only sexually attracted to women. My attraction to men came later and remained at a lesser level, but I am nevertheless, bisexual. However, the link that this has with my gender is something that I’ve only recently begun to understand.

When I am attracted to a man, I feel like a straight woman. When I am attracted to a woman, I feel like a straight man. During sex, I wouldn’t want a man to treat my body as masculine, and I wouldn’t want a woman to treat my body as feminine, both of those scenarios make me feel uncomfortable. In past situations when I have been with both men and women simultaneously, I assumed the gender that was opposite to the person I found most attractive, and I gave my attention solely to them. I could not, and can not, change my gender identity at will or switch from one to the other at a moments notice.

So that then begs the question, am I actually bisexual? Or am I straight and gender fluid?

What is Gender/ Coming Out

If you are transgender, coming out is an important part of the transition process. You are announcing to the world (or at least, your loved ones) who you are and how you wish to live. It is your declaration that you intend to shrug off the old you that never really fit, and begin your journey into the you that you know yourself to be. It is also an opportunity for you to inform others of your preferred pronouns and new name. It is the beginning of your rebirth.

If you are non-binary or gender fluid, your identity is not so clear cut and it can be difficult for others to understand. Some non-binary people may choose to adopt the pronouns they/them or ze/zir (or something else) and this is something that they can request of people, but other than that, what parts of their lifestyle will be different? They may cut their hair differently or wear new clothes, but they’re not adopting a whole new persona that people will need to adjust to. In todays world where gender stereotypes are no longer expected, what difference does it make if you are male, female, both, or neither?

I’ve gone back and forth on this idea of whether it’s necessary for me to come out. I don’t know until I wake up in the morning which gender I will identify more with, and therefore I am happy for people to choose whichever pronouns they think best represent me at the time. Nothing about my lifestyle or the way others treat me will change if I announce that I am gender fluid, but I also feel like, by not telling others, I’m keeping it a secret, and I don’t want to do that either.

Well, I guess you can consider this my public coming out. My name is Belle and I identify and gender fluid. Nice to meet you.

Being Bullied into Being a Better Person

Being Bullied into Being a Better Person

The hot (and seemingly unavoidable) topic right now, is that another White American Cop has killed another Black American Citizen by ‘restraining’ him with a knee to the neck until he suffocated.

The ‘Black Lives Matter’ hashtag has resurfaced after the last attack, and there have been protests, riots, speeches, viral videos, and instagram black outs, to name a few, in response.

I don’t want to address the initial event, nor am I going to dispute how people wish to show their outrage or support. That is not my place and I don’t have the authority. What I do wish to talk about today is social pressure and how that has been made exponentially worse by social media.

I, personally, have chosen to abstain (until now) from commenting on this event on any of my social platforms. One reason for this is that so many things in the world upset me today that I have to pick and choose what I get emotionally invested in, or else I’d be unable to function. The other reason is that the topic is far too inflammatory. No matter what I say on the subject, I will offend someone. Even not saying anything can be seen as ‘choosing the side of the oppressor’. It’s a lose-lose situation, and that’s not how social media should be, but it is what it has become.

Social media is supposed to be a platform for us to express ourselves, join complementary communities, and to connect with people all around the world, but it is being used as another form of bullying. This isn’t new, it’s been the case basically since the internet found its way into peoples homes. The thing that I find to be most despicable about this is that, when a major tragedy or event that effects millions of people happens, social media could be an immeasurable force for good.

No doubt, that is what some people are intending with the hashtags, the clap for the NHS, and the do-a-thing-and-then-nominate-other-people-to-do-the-thing challenges, but what it actually causes is a social pressure to conform, with the threat of ostracism, confrontation or worse, abuse if you don’t contribute in the ‘correct’ way. Therefor, what was originally intended to cause a positive influence in the world, has actually become toxic. The general consensus being that if your opinion differs from the majority then you are part of the problem and should be extinguished.

In order for a society to grow (spiritually and intellectually), we must be able to express and discuss opinions with open minds and open hearts. You must always be open to the idea that you may be wrong and allow your opinions to bend and change. You must be willing to accept that, even if you believe your opinion is right, that doesn’t make the opposing opinion wrong. Everybody is entitled to their own thoughts and has the right to express them publicly if they choose.

The irony of the Black Lives Matter movement is that it is ultimately a fight for equality, but the methods employed are actually alienating some people, dividing communities, and redirecting hatred. And that is generally the order of business. Somebody is mistreated and the public, in their outrage, overcompensates by hyper-focussing on everybody who shares their race, gender, sexual identity, occupation, or other attribute, and everybody must agree with the public opinion or else they are bigots.

“On the sixth day of Hate Week, after the processions, the speeches, the shouting, … and the general hatred of Eurasia had boiled up into such delirium that if the crowd could have got their hands on the 2,000 Eurasian war-criminals … they would unquestionably have torn them to pieces—at just this moment it had been announced that Oceania was not after all at war with Eurasia. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Eurasia was an ally.”

“One minute more, and the feral roars of rage were again bursting from the crowd. The Hate continued exactly as before, except that the target had been changed.”

– Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell. Part 2, Section 9

As always, my blog posts are intended to trigger thought and self reflection. However, if you would like to open a discord then the comments section below is open. Or if you would like to discuss this topic privately with me, you can use the form on the ‘Contact Me’ page.

The Miracle of Science

The Miracle of Science

On March 21st bought my first wheelchair because walking is getting harder and I knew that my 3rd year of University would be more challenging than the previous two so I might need some extra help getting around. Exactly 4 months later, on July 21st, I went for a walk, for the first time since I got sick, without my cane. Today I am going to tell you about my miraculous recovery.

Over the past two weeks I’ve been doing something incredible for my own personal development and also for my future career prospects; I did two weeks of work experience at a biological laboratory. The shifts were 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. and I was on my feet most of every day. The Laboratory was based in the next county over so I had to take two buses to get there, meaning that I woke up at 5 a.m. and often didn’t get home until 7:30 to 8 p.m. On the Saturday between the two weeks I also volunteered at my university as a tour guide from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. standing, walking, talking, and going up and down stairs. If you had asked me back in March if I thought I’d be able to do such a thing, I would have laughed to hide my tears. “I really wish I could,” I would have said “but it’s just not possible.”

This past week I have been able to stand in the shower while I wash my hair and shave my legs, and then dry and dress myself without having to sit down. I have skipped across a car park, run up the stairs, and chased my partner around the room in a play fight.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way “healed” or “cured”, I’m not even back to how I was before I got sick in the first place. I still have to pay very close attention to my body when it gives me those signs and signals to say “you’re near your limit. You’ll flare if you keep pushing.” But, I’m slowly starting to to be myself again.

So how did I do it? Firstly, let’s not underestimate my constant self analysis. I learned about my illness not just through internet searches, community engagement and books, but also through constantly listening to my body and watching how it reacted to certain stimuli. So I knew my limitations well and I could sense when my body had had enough. I knew when I could push harder and when I needed to slow down and rest so the only times I would have a bad flare was when I had to do something unavoidable or I got sick and my body put all its energy into fighting that. This is something that all chronic illness sufferers should do, especially when they have an illness that doctors know little about and there is little treatment for. Know yourself, your body, your illness and advocate for yourself, do what you know is best for you. Once you’ve reached this point, then you can start experimenting with treatments because you’ll be able to feel whether it’s helping or hurting you more. The one that helped me is Dr Sarah Myhill’s Keto Paleo protocol. I’m not going to go into great detail about it here because I have done so elsewhere and also she will explain it better than I can so if you’re interested you should check out her website. I will also insert my video here so you can watch me explain it poorly. Again, the important thing here is that you know what should happen during this process and that you know you’re body well enough to know whether what you’re feeling is expected or something to worry about.

It took about 6-8 weeks for me to start feeling a change. I began to increase my activity slowly and carefully taking a step back if I needed to. But when I first started calling it a success was when I was tired then rested then felt refreshed. This was something my body never did, I used to wake up exhausted but now I was starting to feel like my body was recovering while it slept like it should.

My diet and lifestyle is something I have to stay on top of and if I let it slide too much I start to feel the old fatigue and pain start coming back, but living this way has given my life back so I am happy and willing to do it for the rest of my days.