A Week of New Beginnings

It’s been a week of beginnings, and of reflections on beginnings.

Last Tuesday, I did something scary. I went to an Aikido dojo, and watched a class, and wound up signing up for membership for June and buying a gi. Sunday, I went to my first practice. While the fact that I never quite managed to execute anything perfectly was frustrating, I surprised myself by sticking with it the whole practice and not taking breaks. Everyone was really friendly, and there was a minimum of awkwardness around pronouns, and no one questioned my presence in the men’s changing room, so that was great. I intended to go back yesterday morning (it’s another Jewish holiday, so I wound up with two free days this week), but I caved to the desire to get some extra sleep. I will be going back tomorrow after work, though. I’m going to try to make two practices a week for the month of June, and if I decide at that point to stick with it, I’ll probably try to work in a third in coming months. (For the record, as I am writing this three days after the fact, I am still sore in places I didn’t know I had. I still plan to go back. This is a big deal.)

This Tuesday was my birthday. I am now 26, which is not a particularly exciting age, but it’s a new year, and there’s always something to be said for the beginnings of things. I never would have imagined, looking ahead as I turned 25, that the year would hold so much change. I got a new job, which has been infinitely better than anything I had hoped to find, and which is teaching me new things and giving me opportunities for growth every day. I’m working in a field I’ve always been interested in but never thought I would pursue for a career. There are certainly things about my job that are frustrating, but hey, that’s just kind of part of life, right? I have a great manager, a great immediate supervisor, and a work environment where I can safely be out.

Which brings us to another big change that’s happened since my last birthday: I started on testosterone. When I hit 25, I was only just barely starting to consider testosterone as a possibility, and I assumed it was going to be something in the distant future. Prior to last spring, I had written it off as something I should never try, because I was terrified of the possibility of my fairly well-managed Bipolar brain being destabilized. By August, I had been destabilized by the dissonance between my mental image of myself and the reality I saw in the mirror. I had panic attacks whenever I thought about going out in public. It felt like a snap decision when I made the appointment to talk with my doctor about testosterone, but by the time I started, it was clear that it was a necessary choice for the sake of my well-being. And I can gladly say that I am so much happier and more comfortable in my body now than I was a year ago. I can stand the sound of my own voice (I even enjoy it sometimes). I have some scruffy facial hair, including sideburns that my partner predicts will rather resemble Hugh Jackman’s sideburns as Wolverine when they fill in more (I can dream, right?).

I also started songwriting classes in the last year. I wrote songs in high school (quite a few, actually), but they were all pretty horrible, and I’d only made a couple of attempts since then, none of which were particularly great. It’s been fascinating to watch my progress as I’ve gone through 20-some weeks of classes. I can honestly say I’m proud of a couple of the songs I’ve written, and I can see myself growing less and less afraid of experimenting as time goes on. Between the weekly songwriting assignments and the weekly commitment to keep up this blog have been great for my sanity. I need creative outlets in my life, and it’s been so, so good to have them consistently.

As I take my first tentative steps into this next year of life, I am particularly aware of the fact that I have no idea what the future holds. What I do know is that I am excited about the year ahead. I’m in a much better place than I was a year ago, and for that, I am grateful.

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