For most of my life I've known the risks of standing out. As an athlete, a musician, teacher, and stage actor, I stood at the brink - about to enter the arena in situations where the team depended on what I could do. My success was the team's success and the opposite as well. I know how much courage it takes to enter the arena.
As familiar as I was with that risk, standing at the brink of transition over five years ago felt different by a factor of a thousand.
I have invoked Brené Brown's wisdom many times on this blog. Somehow I missed this address she gave to an audience of creative people at 99u in 2013. For we who are trans and must still put ourselves out there in the public eye, her words ring so true. Hearing them six years ago would have made a difference in my life. Luckily, somehow, I found the courage to step into that arena where all the critics and my worst fears held sway.
Brené says things like, “I want to be in the arena. I want to be brave with my life. And when we make the choice to dare greatly, we sign up to get our asses kicked. We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both. Not at the same time.”
“Yeah, it’s so scary to show up, it feels dangerous to be seen, it’s terrifying. But it is not as scary, dangerous or terrifying as getting to the end of our lives and thinking ‘what if I would have shown up, what would that have been like?’ “
When I recognized who I was - a strong woman living the life of a hollow man - the question 'at the end of my life which path will give me peace?' was like a tipping point. It was time to woman up and enter the arena.