Hannah - Poway, California
Entered on January 15, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
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I was seven years old, and I believed in confusion. This belief was founded on one single trip to Applebee’s. I had recently gotten a drastic haircut, and now my white-blonde hair barely brushed the tips of my ears. Sitting on the sticky maroon vinyl of the restaurant booth, I swished my hair back and forth, cottoning on quickly to the airy feel, while my mother chatted quietly with the woman sitting at the booth behind us. The woman, a toddler in tow, was obviously a mother herself, and had begun the conversation by responding to my mother’s comment on how cute her baby was.

Shortly, the woman looked over at me and asked, earnestly, “Is… yours… a girl or a boy?”

I giggled. A warmth that began as a prick in my toes spread upwards. I was grinning so fiercely my mouth began to hurt. It was the best thing anyone had ever said about me, and after that I thirsted for it; appreciating each time someone mistook me for a boy.

I believe that in this singular experience, the joy I was experiencing was so clear because it came from me and nowhere else; no one had dictated it to me, and I didn’t even know what it meant—but it was making itself known anyways. I discovered that I was, and am, androgynous.

However, as I got older, and basic anatomy took its toll, fewer and fewer people mistook me for a boy, and a part of me, until recently, was lost. Androgyny isn’t about biological characteristics and it doesn’t affect sexual orientation. It is an outward expression of inner ambiguity. Meaning, I know that I am biologically a girl—but I don’t always feel that way. It may seem that being androgynous would bring with it the self-esteem of the not having to be either gender; too often, though, it carries all the insecurities and self-doubt of both.

It’s almost funny—if girls weren’t expected to be a certain way, the word ‘androgyny’ would never have been invented. But we are; and it was. Being this way means that outwardly, my identity will be in constant flux; however, that change will merely be a physical representation of my inner solidarity of character.

I don’t expect many people to understand what androgyny really means—sometimes, even I myself don’t. But I know that despite the future challenges, I can take comfort in the fact that I won’t ever change who I am to suit my circumstances. I am free from the limits that the need for external validation imposes. I hope that everyone will find their happiness in being themselves, because I know that in doing so I have found my new belief: I believe in internal validation; I believe in me.