It's easy to get caught up in things that I think define me, to hold on tight to them long after they stop being relevant. Modes of dress, ways of speaking, even hobbies and aspirations have a way of sticking around.
Not long ago, I gave up the thing that I thought defined me. I walked away from working, from passing as female. I donated my entire "women's clothing" wardrobe to the thrift store in one swoop. I finally came out to my parents after agonizing over whether I was disappointing them when my life was taking such a hard left turn from what was expected. I admitted to myself that some friendships were gone and never coming back.
As a part of sorting through that, I fell back on old definitions of self. I was listening to the music I liked the last time I lived with my parents, I was dressing like I had before I started out into the world, and I was doing it all unthinking. Having forced myself out of one ill-fitting self image, rather than build my new one, I fell back onto the archaeological finds underneath. I knew I was doing it, but I wasn't ready to stop.
Now is the time for honesty, as we go into the darkness, as the Hunt rides, as the People prepare for Reunion. There is no room for fighting with myself. Just trying things on, one at a time, and seeing what is comfortable and what pieces fit.
This is also a magical act, a kind of shapeshifting, a part of transition. It's kind of exciting, knowing I'm growing into the person I was meant to be.
It's an easy trick to fall into, thinking that shapeshifting inherently takes you away from your true self. None of us are who we began as, though, and while going back can be comforting, it's also confining. I can't pick up where I left off being 11 or 18 or 26. I'm doomed if I try.
I am a shapeshifter. The answer to my question is to go forward, not back. To discover who I am, what I am, what kind of person I am in the situation I'm in now.