In just a couple of weeks I will have been full time for two full years, and these are some reflections on some of the things that have been different from what I might have expected. We all enter into this with ideas, but how does reality wear them down?
I speak not of romance, at least not at this point, but of interaction. I naively thought friendships with men would not be disturbed, by and large that hasn’t been the case. It is the unusual man who can have a platonic relationship with a woman I’m finding. It isn’t that my old friends are hitting on me, they are just withdrawing.
I’m finding I need to reevaluate my behavior toward men. What’s an interesting or lively conversation from my viewpoint can be something very different from his. In fact, just about anything beyond saying hello can be construed as flirting by men it would seem. This is really annoying. I like relating to women, but….
All in all some hits and some misses, but definitely at a farther distance than before. Some close platonic friends, but I need to be careful.
One of the recent surprises is that a lot more doors are getting held open and some of these guys are, um, showing off. Hmm. I can’t say what’s changed, but it’s kinda fun.
It looks easy in the YouTube video or on TV, or when your friend is doing it, but it isn’t. This really does take a lot of time and practice to learn.
Don’t put on too much. Foundation is supposed to even out your skin, not hide it. Blush is supposed to enhance color, not lie like paint. Mascara makes your lashes visible. The idea with all this is to enhance what’s there into something that looks natural. Of course we’ve been sold that a woman doesn’t look right without it and that could be a whole series of debates by itself.
Suffice it to say that a light hand is a good thing with makeup and it takes time to develop that along with the vision to see what’s going on.
Then there’s just skill. It takes time to be able to quiet important reflexes so you can put on eye liner and other makeup in sensitive spots.
I’ve found it really does take a while to get a real sense of what’s appropriate in what environment and what is suitable for yourself. Watching What Not to Wear is great fun, and has good information, but nothing beats real life experience and the occasional embarrassment.
My typical go to outfits may not resemble what works for you. Today was my virtual Friday business casual: dark wash blue jeans, purple pullover sweater, earrings, necklace, metallic wedges.
A typical run out the door day might be a colored button down or t-shirt with black dress pants, booties or big block heels, earrings and either a black blazer or cardigan.
Weekend casual outfits usually substitute jeans for dress pants or skirts/dresses, and sneakers or flats for heels. Yet even a casual day might be spent in just a casual version of nice clothes, a casual skirt or dress, a t with a beautiful print. This way an early but hard lesson to learn – I couldn’t wear men’s t-shirts anymore, at least if I wasn’t working on something dirty or some such.
- Forget colored tights, they look cute but everyone will think you’re bizarre. Stick with black, neutral, dark navy, dark brown and gray. Nylons in nude, black or black tints.
- Cheap nylons lasts longer and is harder to run than expensive hose. I don’t understand and I can’t explain it. The Hanes outlet sells various at a good discount. They’re probably seconds but nylons are disposable. One of the best has been L’eggs – not fancy, but harder to ruin than many.
- Make sure to file your toenails so the hose doesn’t catch and run. Now your fingernails. Now smooth the skin at the end of your finger. Tights aren’t sensitive, but nylons will run if you look at them sideways.
- Keep an extra pair of nude and black in your desk at work.
- …. and you can always wear slacks
I thought I’d wear a bunch of socks with shoes like I did as a guy, but I didn’t count on lots of things. First there’s that skirt/dress thing. You wear hose with skirts and dresses, not socks. With dress slacks you’ll probably wear knee hi’s (buy a bunch of pairs of black knee hi’s). Women do wear trouser socks, but they won’t work with all shoes and aren’t right for all outfits. You definitely don’t need 20 pairs of them. I do have a bunch of the short ankle socks you can wear with sneakers that don’t show at all. Those are useful and convenient.
In warm weather sandals are great. No socks required, great ventilation, really comfortable and you can have a bunch of pairs of them that go with different clothing.
Flats are really always fine. I’ve had some trouble finding comfortable fits without sacrificing good looks (the ones that work for me tend toward the casual) but they’re nice.
I’ve avoided dress pumps with their narrow heels like the plague. But there are very nice stylish heels with wider heels that are still flattering and nice and don’t threaten to dump you down the stairs.
My favorite in the winter is riding boots, but I adore booties as well.
The only surprise (about shoes) is that I love shoes. I never would have guessed.
I have much more reasonable goals and expectations now of where I want to be and what I can and cannot change. Some things I really wondered about haven’t proven to be a problem at all. I talk with people all the time and from their behavior most have no clue, and more importantly, if they do they treat me with respect and dignity.
I respect myself for what I’ve done. I understand my reasons and while I regret that I caused some pain, I’ve mostly put away the guilt that plagued me. What the future will bring I cannot say.
Most of all, I never expected to feel like a whole woman.