|T-shirt and hair cut|
My grandmother didn't overtly want me to change, but like my mother there were comments here and there. I remember Christmas day 1976. My grandmother bought me a blue dress. She wanted me to wear it for dinner. I refused. There was no way she was gonna get me in a dress. Well, my grandmother could be pretty persuasive, especially with my mom and aunts to back her up, so we compromised. I wore what I wanted for the day, then after dinner I changed into the dress. I was so uncomfortable. Honestly I hated it. That was the last time I wore a dress. I think it was difficult for my grandmother to understand why I wasn't like other girls my age.
|The dreaded blue dress|
On the one hand I was confident. I knew who I was, what I wanted and how I wanted to live. On the other hand I'd constantly question myself. It caused a lot of internal pain in my youth. There were a lot of suppressed feelings that took a long time for me to be comfortable acknowledging to myself, let alone anyone else. I feel like I went through my teens and twenties as half a person. Until I could be completely comfortable with who I was, every molecule, no matter what my mother, grandmother or society said, there was a part of me missing. I had to keep parts of myself hidden from everyone, even from me for awhile.
I had to embrace every part of me. Once I did that I became whole again. I liked who I was. That made handling whatever life threw at me a little bit easier. It was okay to be me.
I look at my nephews today and I hope that they find out who they are and also feel free to be who they are at a young age. I also hope my brother and sister-in-law allow their sons to discover for themselves who they are, with no expectations forced upon them.
If I could impart one piece of advice to my nephews it would be the same advice I would give my 10 year old self. Always be true to yourself. Don't let society, or even your parents, dictate who you will become. Deep down you know who you are. Believe in that person. Be true to you.