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Let’s Overthink Together 

A friend got me a book, 3000 Questions About Me, for my birthday which has led to my roommate and I answering some of the questions before bed. 


Some of them are stupid: what’s your favorite food, are you scared of spiders? What about, do you believe in ghosts? (This one split us, I say yes, roommate says no). 


But some other ones really made us think: what childhood dreams have you neglected? Do you feel robbed in any area of your life? Is your life fulfilling? 


“Question 1823,” I asked on a Thursday night, “What is the best thing about being your gender?”


We both let out deep sighs and sat silent for a moment. 


“I don’t know,” my roommate answered pretty quickly. “I’ve never thought about my gender before–which I know is a privilege,” he gave me a look, knowing I would have a much more complicated answer.  


And of course, I did. 


The obvious answer for me is the concept of “girlhood.” The messages we convey with just a look, getting ready to go out together, and the ability to make someone’s day with a compliment are my favorite things about being a “girl.” 


The only issue here is that the answer assumes that my gender is, in fact, girl. Which it might be, but it also might not be, because as much as I enjoy “girlhood” and everything it entails, it doesn’t hurt to explore things outside of the girl/boy binary.


Follow along with me to overthink my gender, and maybe yours too! Thinking back on your childhood relationship with gender with a critical lens is an exercise I would encourage everyone to start with.


When I was in 2nd grade (7 years old?) I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer was a pastry chef; not a baker, because I associated bakers with housewives and simply supplying classrooms with birthday cupcakes. Pastry chefs, however, were successful and had a larger purpose outside the house. How did this idea get put in my head? I have no idea. 


Throughout middle school I prided myself on not being boy crazy (and later learned what a lesbian is) because I didn’t want to be the girly girl archetype that I felt my friends and peers fit into. Yet I tried and tried to still fit in, fighting a losing battle against myself.


My highschool years were spent on student council, prom committee, yearbook, and the newspaper–if I was in a leadership position then people had to respect me, and not look at me as just a girl–as if those two things were mutually exclusive. 


Growing up, I was always the “mom friend,” the one who made the plans, baked the cakes, and took care of the people around her. Those are all things I enjoyed doing, and still do. But, the comparison to being a mother has always made my skin crawl. I’m aware of this, and are my friends, we call it my “motherhood complex,” but I have not come up with a way to combat it yet (if anyone has suggestions, please share). 


Some great realizations have been made by looking into the past. Now, we look to the future with lots of questions that will not necessarily have any answers.  


If I do not consider myself a woman, am I reducing women to mothers? I know there is nothing wrong with motherhood, but why do I have such an issue with it being considered, even in passing, for myself? 


If I had been raised less concerned or aware of the negatives people associated with femininity, if I had been educated on the fluidity of gender sooner, or if I understood where my resentment of being a “girl” came from, what would be different? 


I’m not unhappy with my gender expression now, but I wouldn’t describe myself as satisfied either. Changing my pronouns seems like a surface level fix, though I know it is a solution for many, I don’t necessarily associate my usage of she/her with the heaviness that I carry about being a woman. 


With this newfound perspective, back to the original question at hand…


“What is the best thing about being your gender?”


My answer now is that it can be whatever I want it to be. The best thing about my gender is that it is made up, I can still have “girlhood” without defining myself to a box.


What’s yours?


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