What happens when you share your deep secret? That thing you would be terrified if someone found out?
I suppose my heart heard that and said, “Let’s find out!” because at the end of 2017, I created a post about what my ‘secret’ was and shared it with a private Facebook group.
I crafted it over and over until I was like, “Fuck it, no, I have to just say it and be done with it. Stop beating around the bush.” So that’s what I have to do now too, because I was re-writing this blog post over and over and over.
I’m a guy, but I really like womenswear and other traditionally feminine things. I find myself fascinated by all of the options that ladies have when it comes to clothing and I want to be able to incorporate some of that into my own personal style. Colors, flowing fabrics, soft materials, unique designs.
As I’ve explored this “secret” of mine for years, I realized I might be touched a little more by the side of femininity than the average guy – and that has become okay to me. I feel like I may be somewhat more dynamic, more accepting, more open-minded, and more creative because of this.
And when I view my secret, my related quirks, in that light: why not embrace it in every possible way imaginable?
Sure, I may not yet have the courage to embrace it 100%, but simply putting these words out there, it begins the process.
It gives me the agency to start exploring other aspects of this discovery. I can focus less on “what will people think of me? How will I react?” and more on things like, “How can I leverage this unique characteristic to improve my life and to help others?”
And there was another interesting impact of sharing my secret…
I hit publish that night in the end of December 2017, but when I woke up the next morning… I was met with a flood of comments the next morning. No post I have ever shared online has gotten that many comments before, and that by itself goes to show the impact of being vulnerable.
But the most important part of that…
Every single one, EVERY SINGLE ONE, was supportive, accepting, and encouraging in some way.
I had someone offer to help me learn more about myself through a fun Pinterest project, and that was the first time I ever really talked about all of this with another person in such a way where it felt completely normal to do so. Embraced everything I had to say. No judgement when 95% of the pictures I put on that board were all woman or womens attire.
Someone else brought up the idea of doing a fun photoshoot to encapsulate my story with this thing when she hits the road.
I got a lot of great recommendations on who to check out for style and personality that exhibited similar style-choices.
Someone called me out when I liked his post; a warm-hearted challenge to embrace what was in his message: BE THE TRUE YOU.
So many suggestions to start small, to find people that would accept me for exploring this, and branch out as I get more courageous.
A PM from someone who said my post moved them to share something of their own in new places.
Nudges to start my own fashion line, to start something new to bring some ‘zing’ to the men’s side.
My post on Dita von Teese was found by an exotic dancer, despite me having zero connections with her, and when I thanked her for sharing my post, I got the most heart-warming message: how encouraging for me to hear that someone could resonate with what I had to share.
Even the comments that were like, “I would never do that” were like, “YOU DO YOU MAN, GO DO IT.”
I could keep going, but I felt so incredibly supported and loved for something that, for the longest time, has felt like this dirty little secret. Something that I “shouldn’t have” but was stuck with.
It was a HUGE step for me personally to share that. And seeing that level of support put me on a new level, seriously– I’ve felt like a different person ever since that morning. Just a huge air of calm and confidence. A new world is opening up to me. A new world of possibility.
But I also realized that it was still somewhat segmented, compartmentalized. Nobody locally really knew this, minus a few. And by sharing this post today, now I put out that same beacon out to my “local peeps.”
I’m not sharing it to necessarily garner the same kind of support that I got in that Facebook group, but it is an opportunity for the people that see what I said and feel a “hell yeah!” to say or do something to show their support. And from that moment I will recognize that they are someone who is open minded, who is respectful, judgement-free, and so on.
Those are the kind of people I will want to associate with.
And it’s also an opportunity for people to read that and go, “that’s fucking weird, man,” whether to my face or not. And that’s great too, and that’s completely their choice, which I respect. But it gives me the opportunity to, if they unfollow me, unfriend, or just otherwise be a dick about it — to release them from my focus. I don’t want to spend my time with judgemental, negative people.
And by SHARING MY TRUTH, I will act as a lighthouse, a magnet to the people that think the same way, or share similar characteristics of love and support and play and … other awesome stuff.
Yet, I will never be able to “attract my tribe” by hiding all of those unique things about myself. While I can still find amazing people without sharing these “weird” things about myself, it’s when I do have the courage to share the weirdest things that I really find the other people in my life who will shine the brightest.
So I will continue to pursue what this is, I will continue to share parts of who I am in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. But I don’t do it from a place of trying to get attention or even validation anymore. I do it first for myself, to help me accept who I am. Second to find those people in my life that are truly supportive, people that I can go to when I do need support, people that I can support back. And third, to be an example to others who may go through similar tribulations of self-acceptance in their own life.
But the moment those words came out of my mouth in that video…
It was a sense of relief. I had this moment of, “Oh. Now what do I do?” Because I had spent months, years, thinking that this thing would just be something I have to keep secret. And maybe it still will, as I slowly build up that courage to wear whatever it is that I do want to wear. But suddenly, the moment I said it, the moment I make this post, there will be a sense of openness about tomorrow.
What was once forever going to be this thing looming over me is now something that’s a part of the past. It’s done. It’s been said. Now I can move on.
There was a moment where I thought that maybe I don’t need to share this, because I felt really comfortable about what I had just said. It was still awkward, but it felt good to say those words. Even if I’m still trying to figure out exactly what it is I DO want, what it means for me, I felt a sense of relief just knowing that I had said them.
But rather than take the easy way out and not write this post, not share that video… I realized there was a reason to still share this, there’s still some value and importance for putting my truth out:
Shine your light and attract the awesome people in your world.
And to hopefully show others that may be processing their own secrets that they can at least start by finding acceptance in themselves for their own quirks, or to find the courage to share it with SOMEONE they know will support them.
Finding that acceptance within myself was a very slow, very long process. It wasn’t even something I readily recognized as something that wanted to surface, but the hints were there for years. I always admired women’s outfits, feminine beauty, art, design, colors … all of it. But it never really translated into a, “Oh wait a minute, I like it because I want to have that for myself also.“
It wasn’t until I got drunk one night at a friend’s house; an apartment with his roommates, a bunch of guys and one of their girlfriends. Part of that night is a bit fuzzy, ahem, but I remember very distinctly being there and being like…
I totally want to get into her … boots.
And I did. I wore those boots all night.
The days that followed, all I could think about was, “… So this is a thing now, isn’t it?” I didn’t really come to terms with it or face it for a while. I’ve never been big on drinking, but it was that night that I realized that alcohol is a really, really good way to disinhibit yourself. A great way to learn about yourself. I don’t drink often, but ever since I have become keenly aware of what my thoughts are like, what I’m saying, how I behave when I’ve had a little bit to drink. Because I can learn quite a bit about myself, and I can learn a little about what I could be like if I embraced more of a fun, carefree, heart-driven attitude.
“What could this imply?”
Those are words that Kyle Cease shared and I thought about them as I made the video.
What could this, accepting the feminine side of my personality, imply? What could this, liking women’s attire, imply? What could this, being able to share this post, imply?
So many things. So many exciting things. Like… It could imply…
- I’m more courageous than I gave myself credit.
- I’m unique.
- I could just start doing whatever I want to do in my life.
- I could develop a very unique style by incorporating different elements of fashion.
- That amazing people are out there, I just have to share who I am to find them.
- I could accept a whole slew of other “non-traditional” and quirky things about myself.
- My entire life could change by truly embracing myself.
- Only I am the one holding myself back from embracing the things I want to do.
- I could be interested in elements of design.
- I might be able to inspire someone to accept or share their own secret.
- I could look into getting directly involved in fashion/style design.
- I could find help if I reach out.
- MY EXPERIENCES ARE MINE TO DESIGN.
Ever since reading those comments, especially the last couple of days as I reconnected with that, I’ve felt this unmistakable energy about me. I just want to be free and creative and playful. I just want to have fun with life. I want to be able to be confident and just act on my intuition and the call of my heart, instead of my fears.
“If I started to explore all of those quirky things…
Where would life go?
Where could life go?”
“But it could be interesting.”
And what a delightful proposition: life could be interesting. Not fearful, not stressful. Interesting. No matter what happens, interesting.
I’m excited for what comes next, because I don’t know what comes next. Maybe I start to explore more ambitious clothing choices. Maybe I ask someone to help me up my style game. Maybe I finally dye my hair and figure out how to actually manage long hair. Maybe I just start doing more things that excite me or delight my curiosities. Maybe I just start accepting more and more of my little quirks without feeling the need to explain or justify them in my head.
The trajectory of my life can change so very radically by accepting something like this within myself. Not just because of wearing something different, but because of creating the confidence to be myself, having supportive people around me, and taking on the point of view of a lifestyle that is open, and creative, and playful.
Regardless of what you think of me or my situation, thank you for reading. I appreciate you taking the time to explore but a glimpse into my mind.
But more than anything, I hope you find the courage to embrace more and more of who you are. And that you show your acceptance and support to those close to you. Because those people might need it more than you realize. A comment, a hug, lending an ear, a playful suggestion — it might do more than you realize.
And thank you to the EOL community. You know who you are. (:
Here are just a handful of the comments that I received from sharing my post in that Facebook group. I hope that they don’t mind that I shared these (I blocked out the names, just in case), because all of the comments I got helped me to build the confidence to embrace that secret of mine.
I hope that they can help someone embrace something in themselves too, whether it’s something as weird as wearing the opposite gender’s clothes, or something simple.
And if you need an ear to listen to your secret and feel safe enough to share it with me, don’t hesitate to shoot me a message on Facebook @ m.me/austinmpranger
Much love <3