In a synchronistic twist to the inception of this blog, as I added finishing touches to this site early this morning, I realized that today marks the anniversary of my introduction to the concept of Fierce Vulnerability. Two years ago today, on 11/11/11, I embarked on journey that would have profound consequences for me and my life.

I had been offered the opportunity to do a vision quest of sorts in a controlled environment with a friend, and we fortuitously chose November 11 as the day to make it happen. Although the date seems auspicious to me now, with a grouping of ones signaling the beginning of something big, we didn’t settle on it for any special reason other than it happened to be a holiday when I would be off work, and it fit my friend’s schedule by being a Friday.

I’ve done a lot of personal growth work as an adult and already had a pretty good understanding of who I am. However, for several years, I’d been feeling that I was missing something. I didn’t feel that I’d yet discovered or manifested my full true self, and that bothered me. I knew that part of the problem was an inability to access the deeper levels of emotion that I experienced as a child. Sometime during adolescence, I erected a wall that blocked the powerful emotions I struggled to contain when I was younger and became aware that it wasn’t acceptable or safe for a boy growing up in small-town middle-America to be so sensitive. I wanted to remove that blockage and reconnect with my full range of emotions, but I found it difficult to examine this issue. I was ready to initiate change in my life, but I felt stuck. I couldn’t figure out how to enable the shift I desired.

Going into my visioning session, I set an intention to take a closer look at this problem and identify how to solve it. I didn’t anticipate that the answer would impact me so significantly. It shook me to the core and lead me to re-examine one of the foundational elements of my nature, my gender.

I’ve known from a young age that I am transgender. I’m in a male body, but I’m female in spirit. I spent many years prior to 11/11/11 examining, exploring, and experimenting with my gender. I thought I would actualize my female self once I became an adult with the freedom and means to do so, but by the time I reached my mid-twenties, I’d decided that I wasn’t going to transition after all. I came up with good, rational reasons why I didn’t actually need to have the female existence I’d always felt I wanted. I had some outlets for expressing my femininity, and for a few years these helped relieve the anxious pressure I felt from my unfulfilled womanhood. After a while, though, I couldn’t find relief from the feelings of depression and despondency that emanated from my experience of gender dissonance — a form of cognitive dissonance experienced by trans people due to a misalignment of our subconscious and physical sexes.

During my visioning session, I had an epiphany. It was revealed to me that I couldn’t reconnect with my deeper emotions because I was keeping a part of myself separate and distant. Unless and until I could fully accept and integrate my true gender, I wouldn’t be able to reach the state of wholeness I sought. I would have to embrace, express, and embody my innate femininity to find my truth. It was a profound experience that both woke me up and scared the hell out of me. I knew it was right.

While sorting through these intense revelations, still in my deep state of introspection, the theme of Fierce Vulnerability emerged. I’ve explained what this concept means to me here. Fierce Vulnerability has allowed me to find the strength and courage to move towards self realization in the two years since receiving this insight. I’ve taken huge steps to become my authentic self, and I feel immensely joyful and liberated to be living out loud as the woman I truly am. I’m looking forward to sharing more about my perspective on Fierce Vulnerability through this blog.