[Trigger warning: brief mild depiction of depression/suicide imagery from the past.]

Looking just now at a Christmas 2013 picture of me in my (then) brand-new dress, I realized I'm at an interesting point in terms of figuring out what "authentic femininity" means for me personally. Specifically, I now feel like at some point in my life, I will say something like "you know, I used to hate wearing dresses/makeup/dancing/whatever[0] and felt really awkward around them," and someone who knows me pretty well will be surprised: "YOU used to HATE dresses? What?"

[0] not necessarily this set of nouns; it's still too early to see how this might shape up. Part of my definition of "authentic femininity" sees physical vigor as totally badass and loves running and around in a sweat-soaked hoodie and muddy cargo pants (that somehow permit a full range of motion in the hip and knee).

This point may not come for many, many years. But I now believe it will come, and that feels weird in (what I think is) a good way.

I used to be like this for computers and technology. You know, I used to -- well, not hate computers, but certainly I used to feel awkward and incompetent around them. I thought I'd never be a decent programmer, I thought a breadboard was a baking implement, and I certainly didn't think I was going to engineering school. I remember telling my parents in high school "well, the first decision is easy; I can scratch everything that's not liberal arts off the list of schools I'm looking at."

And then there are the other things that I believe I'm going to say someday, if I'm not already saying them now.

You know, I used to hate being deaf, and felt really awkward about that.

You know, I used to hate needing to have a body, and felt really awkward moving, and wished I could just become a robot or computer program so I wouldn't have to deal with things like muscles and breathing. Dancing? Ahaha. Ha.

You know, I used to hate silence and solitude, and felt really awkward and like I had to get the hell out of it as soon as possible.

You know, I used to hate the thought of getting married and settling down and being a mom and maybe not working for a little while so I could stay with my family, and felt like I should avoid the slightest possibility of that at all costs.

You know, I used to hate having to take time off to sleep and rest and relax.

You know, I used to think I'd never have or want any close female friends. You know, I actually used to think I'd never actually have friends at all.

You know, I used to hate having to be alive. There was a period -- an extended, multi-year period -- in my preteen and teenage life when I would beat at my curiosity with Small Mel Fists of rage, because the question of "what's going to happen next?" was by far the strongest argument for not throwing the whole damn thing away. It wasn't being "lifted up on the wings of hope in the midst of despair" or anything picturesque like that. It was more like being dragged unceremoniously over a black pit by a monofilament that cut into my gut like a knife and whooped annoying things like "BUT MAYBE THE FUTURE IS SHINY!" as I flailed at it with whatever cutting edges I could find, cursing it for not shutting up and letting me drop already.

You know, I'm glad it didn't.