I often look around me and feel so incredibly blessed and grateful for my life. This hasn’t always been the case, but life has just gotten better and better and I’m so lucky to lead the life I do.
There is so many challenging events going on in the world. 311 transgender people were murdered in 2019 (that we know of). LGBTQ+ protections are constantly under threat. Climate change is threatening our very existence. There’s no escaping the political upheaval taking place in our government. There’s a lot to be worried about.
But today I want to take a less macroscopic view and I encourage each of you to think about how far you’ve also come in your own personal journey.
The #10YearChallenge was taken over social media at the end of 2019. For those unfamiliar with this challenge, it consists of posting side-by-side photos of yourself on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to gauge how much you’ve changed in 10 years. 10 years ago, I was 20 years old, in college, still identifying as female, and an out lesbian. I didn’t have the best relationship with my parents. I was starting to drink heavily.
7 years ago, I graduated from college and was working at a bakery for the summer (where I was forced to wear a skirt) and living at my parent’s house in rural Lancaster, PA.
6 and a half years ago, I was questioning my gender identity and using alcohol to help me cope with it and with the stress of graduate school.
5 years ago, I was caught drinking and driving, and was kicked out of the room I was renting, and my then-girlfriend broke up with me. I started my journey to sobriety almost immediately after that.
My life has changed dramatically since that time. Now I have a beautiful wife and a strong relationship. We are living in our second home that we’re enjoying fixing up and making our own. We have a Shetland Sheepdog named Archie and a cat named Oliver. I have a job I enjoy, making enough money to cover all our bills and save some extra. We traded in Sebastian’s car and sold mine and bought a 2017 SUV. We paid off all our credit card debt.
We’re enjoying our new neighborhood, which has all the stores we need close by, yet also has the Adirondack and Catskill Mountains, and the Hudson River all within easy reach. I am incredibly happy with the life I chose. Sometimes after work when my wife and I are cuddling on the couch watching TV, we just look around us and feel incredibly blessed and happy to be living the life we’ve chosen for ourselves.
It didn’t just come to us, happenstance. We both transitioned genders, knowing we could (and have) lost family and friends and career prospects. I got sober. I moved (multiple times) to entirely new states where I didn’t know anyone in order to start a new journey in order to try to further my career. I’ve had plenty of privilege to get me to where I am, but I also took big risks, too – never wanting to settle, always conscientious about figuring out what was important to me and going after it.
I’ve been fired from a job. I’ve been sexually assaulted. I’m an alcoholic. I used to smoke cigarettes. I’ve bounced around apartments. Life hasn’t been easy, but it’s absolutely been worth it.
I’m sure there are plenty of bumps in the road ahead. I’ll tackle them when they happen. For now, I’m trying to focus on all the good things I have and to be grateful for it.