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For some of us settling into some sort of normalcy takes time.

First come the early forays into our mother’s closets (which was the subject of a recent post) where things feel right and normal until we are discovered and perhaps scolded. Then comes the phase where we are certain that there is something wrong with us and do our best to suppress but intermittently fail. Here we might experience those first tentative steps out the door or perhaps only dressing at home intermingled with purges where we swear we will never do it again.

One day we think we have found the right person and completely suppress everything and do our best to be “normal”. But eventually we realize that doesn’t work and we either dress surreptitiously or perhaps suppress until the pressure mounts to an intolerable level.

Finally comes the last period of acceptance where we can no longer hide from who we are and we either transition fully, partially or find some sort of formula that honors our identity.

This sequence is almost universal for those of us who tried following the script that we thought we were supposed to and, those of you over 45, will almost certainly recognize yourselves in it.

I am in that final stage and can now look back with 20/20 hindsight and even laugh a little at how terrifying everything was but didn’t need to be. I have learnt what to discard and what to accept but that it is easier for someone in their 50’s who has gained that perspective; but I might add: not without much toil and sweat. It is often said that what doesn't kill us makes us stronger and there is a strong current of truth in this. However I might have preferred that the struggle not have lasted as long as it did.

Whatever it means to be me was revealed over the last decade because I finally permitted it to happen and, the less I worried about what was expected of me, the more I became grounded in who I am.

It turns out that the best gift we can receive in this life is being true to oneself and you are in the unique position to bestow that.


  1. Your summary is so concise and accurate. I have always contended that we can we all tell the same story of hiding, exhilaration and self-loathing and finally acceptance. Like you, my only regret is that it took so long to achieve self-understanding and self acceptance.

    Thank you Joanna for today's post. So well written and thought out.


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