Failure is Only Failure if We Define it as Such
A great deal of time had to pass after starting testosterone before I was able to feel content with my transition. Guys around me who had been on testosterone for half the time, sported tons of facial hair and a deep voice. My voice did eventually drop more, bolstering my confidence but up until that point, I felt discouraged – changes felt painfully slow, barely noticeable. I realized the nagging discontent that plagued me for the past half a year was this: my transition felt unsuccessful; my transition felt like a failure.
But then I contemplate: can any kind of transition be a failure while still in progress? Can I even determine something to be a success or failure until it is complete? But, is it even completion that determines success? If a subjective idea of “completion” determines something’s worth, wouldn’t that render meaningless, the process of change?
An even more important question: what does failure mean to me and by what criteria do I judge failure? There are many criteria upon which my transition could be judged:
Do I pass in public as a guy? Have I noticeably changed? Is my voice deep enough for people to gender me as male over the phone? Do I have facial hair and how much? Am I happier? Am I experiencing the expected changes?
I could answer yes to all these questions but I still felt as though I should be further along – I should have more hair, my voice should be deeper, my body shape should be more visibly changed. But wait. Says who? Or, compared to what?
I realized I had been comparing myself to those individuals experiencing exceptionally fast changes and basing my worth off people’s reactions to me. Furthermore, the fact that nobody talked about my transition or commented on my changes was something that confused me. I had no idea how I appeared to others so it felt as though my transition was not happening, that I was not appearing “more male” to those around me, that I wasn’t progressing.
Whether we admit it or not, how we view ourselves is at least partially created according to others’ perception of us and perhaps I had been judging my progress on people’s verbal responses (or lack of). But why did I need the reassurance of other people so bad? Perhaps years of not being recognized as a guy made me desperate for that validation.
But, could I re-evaluate what success and failure mean to me? If we all re-evaluated how we define success and failure, could we render the concept of failure non-existent?
Stop caring about what people think. Stop defining the self by the reactions of others. Better yet, I can exist forever changing without defining myself. Can I just be a constantly evolving, transforming energy?
I had the courage to change and to me, there is no greater success.
Failure is when we let fear hold us back completely. Failure is when we don’t try, when we think we won’t be good enough so we don’t start. If we try all the things we want to try, we could never fail because we live in the moment and never let anything hold us back. By keeping ourselves in a safe spot, holding onto comfort by avoiding embarrassment or vulnerability, we limit ourselves and will never know our true capabilities.
Be bad at something but have fun anyways. By not knowing what to say, but staying in that silence, we might hear each other better. Allow others to be everything but perfect; show weakness and let it teach us to not create ourselves by reacting.
Maybe this will allow us to connect on a deeper level. In this case there is no such thing as failure, just a deeper existence.
The beginning of transition seems excruciatingly slow, in fact, a point in time existed where changes seemed so slow that I entertained the possibility of testosterone not even working, but changes do happen; hormones absolutely do their job Many small changes add up to a big, noticeable change in appearance and 1 day I realized I was being gendered as male 100% of the time. Days that crept by in between these two time points allowed me numerous moments of introspection and perseverance. Those days of painfully slow changes allowed me to develop a gentler definition of success and failure and now I possess more confidence in exploring the world around me.