transcend | tranˈsend | verb [ trans. ]
be or go beyond the range or limits of (something abstract, typically a conceptual field or division)
fear | fi(ə)r | noun
an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat
Fear is an ambivalent thing.
On one hand, it’s a vital survival mechanism that often keeps us from doing things that could be hazardous to life, limb, or emotional well-being. On the other, it can be a misplaced belief that prevents us from engaging with life fully due to an uncalibrated risk assessment process that defaults towards less or no risk.
But no risks mean no rewards, and that can lead to a sterile, frustrated life.
Discrimination between real and misplaced fears can be quite difficult, since fear can be innate (like fear of falling or of someone brandishing a weapon) or conditioned (like sticking your finger in an electrical socket or emotional distancing by a loved one when they don’t like your behavior). I’ve noticed that fear generally feels the same to me, but varies in its intensity.
So how can you tell a real fear from an misplaced fear when they pretty much feel the same?
I don’t really know.
But I have noticed that my misplaced fears often fall into the conditioned category and the seeds of the fear came from other people. So I try and stop and ask myself when I’m afraid, (when I remember to, because I’m often witless when I’m scared,) “Is this fear based on something I’ve done and learned from or from something someone has warned me about that I’ve internalized and taken in without ever encountering it in order to learn the fear for myself?”
What I do know is that embracing all fears can lessen their intensity, which can lead to transcending them. (For a practical guide on how to embrace fear, I highly recommend Pema Chodron’s, When Things Fall Apart.) This transcendence does not banish fears, but places them in their rightful place – as vital protection mechanisms.
We know not to step off of the cliff unassisted, lest we dash ourselves upon the rocks below.
In my experience, being non-pergender is to experience a chronic level of fear.
Will I be discovered and ridiculed? Will I be abandoned and alone? Will I be unable to earn a living and feed, clothe, and house myself? Will I be physically assaulted? And so on. These are real fears, backed by scientific survey data.
These fears drive us all forward, and some of us find a way to embrace and transcend them or at least live with them, while others find their fears turn into terrors and they opt to end their lives because they cannot find any other way to escape them.
Ever since I first entertained the idea in my teenage years that I might be transsexual, these fears haunted me and kept me from exposing myself to others. In the past year, that burden became too heavy for me to bear, and I embraced the fears. I’m still scared. I may still yet be hurt emotionally or physically.
But I know now that most of my fears about transition are conditioned and placed there by others.
There was a point in time where I was running towards that cliff full-tilt and I had everything planned out and then…, then the bottom fell out on me, and I grabbed onto the ground so hard it took me years to let go.
But today, today I experienced an event that could be my wings, should I choose to grow them, if I step off the cliff and try to soar. A major fear has been mostly banished and transcended, at least for the next little while.
I am so extraordinarily fortunate to find myself here. But now it’s now entirely up to me, and that’s the scariest thing ever, and I’m afraid.