Although my column is rooted in my own experiences which I try to paint as humorous, there’s always been something I’ve been paranoid about, or avoided. Through myriad years of lying about my age, never once thinking about what I should do with myself at all for too long, and rushing in and out of several careers and jobs in mere months per year since I graduated college, today I feel overwhelmed to admit that I’m 30, and besides having *really* good skin (and being a Kentucky 8, but a California 6.5), I don’t have much else going for me. I’m single, my mom pays most of my rent, I totaled my car, I drink fairly frequently, and the only time I feel at peace with myself is when I’m unconscious or blacked out, numb to everything and everyone around me, wrapped up in a spinning montage of ambient bar lighting, the beds of men I don’t even like, and dissociating in an uber until arriving home and stomping up the stairs, fumbling my keys and somehow finding my way into bed.
It’s unfortunate to say, but I’m not feeling very thirty, flirty, and thriving. It’s more like a feeling of thirty, failing, and aware i am slowly dying: and before anyone feels the need to request a mental inquest warrant, I feel like this is a normal part of aging for me — each birthday, I am hit with waves of borderline suicidal dread which usually are staved off (and then enhanced) by customary binge drinking and surrounding myself with as many people as possible: and every year, this method has worked, but perhaps I feel I should be a little more critical with myself.
Every year, I feel as if I weigh what I’ve done and think, “Do I deserve to live another year, or am I just wasting space?” and as concerning as an estimation that is, despite my wasteful existence, I always give myself… A little more time to make similar mistakes. But now that I’ve hit an incredibly close to my “age I hope to be dead by,” I feel as if I have to be honest with myself and recognize… I am not doing too well, but whatever, right?
I realize my impatience with myself is rooted in narcissism and the machiavellistic grip society and its ladders have on me. Because of my own personal failures, I manage to become absorbed into things that don’t matter while attempting to portray what others think of as a life, doing my best to appeal to a heteronormative mold that may not fit me, now or ever.
I think that if I attain fiscal success, a partner, and “look” fine on paper, then my life will be valid, I will have some degree of self worth, my mental illnesses will heal and I won’t have a lengthy hospitalization record anymore. But that’s not true at all — I deserve to live because I am alive, not to become “valid” and certainly not to appeal to the conceptions and ideas of others around me.
Each time, I collapse, building up something pretty on paper until I find myself worse off, unable to cope with whatever is going on in my life externally and crumbling under whatever I’ve forced myself into to look normal amongst a sea of white, cisgendered people, and their standard on paper lives.
As I am reminded every year as more and more trans people are murdered, my life shouldn’t be taken for granted or treated with the same urgency as a glass of spilled milk. So many do not even have the option of this nonchalance, and were subjected to violence much sooner. I won’t lie — this isn’t the original draft of this piece. The original draft was whiny, depressive about my aging, and had a fake “We can do it guys!!!” wrap up at the end at the suggestion of my friends because it was too fucking bleak and after a week of binge drinking and hyper focusing on yet another man who didn’t love me who abandoned paying attention to me for a “real woman,” a lot had changed in the world. A lot of people left the world, and it wasn’t by their own option. While I mulled over my own suicide, contemplating if this would be the year it was finally time to just give the fuck up and die while I still had pretty pictures for people to share and enough good impressions for people to make a thing of it (and about themselves) for the next 5 years, the Club Q shooting happened while simultaneously, I had a gun pulled on me.
Did my blood run cold? Did I finally find fear or regret in my actions or who I was around, or the culmination of what I had spent my year doing? I honestly did for a moment — I saw it wasn’t worth it. I was never going to prove myself or “fix” someone who didn’t perceive me as I was, and no amount of legitimizing my existence through becoming “valid” was going to change people’s perceptions of me. I wasn’t going to find acceptance and healing through others. I surrendered to the idea of punishment for my existence for a while, thinking that this outcome was all I was going to get from others: hurt.
So what should I do or think? What do those who cannot see themselves and have to rely on using others as mirrors have to do with themselves? It’s far too selfish, far too disgusting, and far too a wasteful idea to think “I have to give up now.”
It’s far too self righteous and faux-noble to pretend like I want to keep living just because some people died — and I don’t mean that dismissively or cruelly. To me, to trans people especially, we’re so used to people around us dying, it’s almost numbing to see yet another trans person was killed or murdered. A club shooting is hardly the first of its kind, and when some transwomen have even been cannibalized by their partners, you have to create a barrier between yourself and emotion, or your tie to this world becomes even looser — we exist now in a period of time where violence against LGBT-identifying people is more publicized, but that violence has always existed, and is a permanent fixture of our identities. By being visible, by being present in queer spaces and being identified as you are, there’s danger: a consistent threat that we live under and have to be mindful of while crafting our lives. And honestly, it’s fucking overwhelming.
I can’t think what I want to say in earnest, and I can’t wrap this up cutely or hopefully. If the world was a kinder place, would so many people feel this way? Would I still have the same indifference towards myself and life? I can’t force myself to say “Yes, I want to live” because so many of us are killed — but I can say I will continue out of spite. I will continue to exist, as will so many others, just because it is our right to be alive in this world, as unjust, as disgusting, as cruel as it continually proves itself to be, until I can’t anymore.