Reflecting On The Most Impactful Year Of My Life

Reflecting On The Most Impactful Year Of My Life

About a year ago, I was sitting in front of my iPad, writing and reflecting on how I felt about how my 2021 had been. I’d essentially gone from zero to one hundred—starting a new job at Apple, coming out to everyone as trans in just a couple of months, moving home, and starting to make new connections online. Here’s what I wrote:

It’s really tricky to try and sum up such a year as 2021. Amongst the constant anxiety, stress and sadness from living through a once-in-a-generation* global pandemic, I’ve been really fortunate in feeling the most alive I’ve ever felt. If I had to sum up my year in one word, it would be: foundational. I feel like there’s a lot that’s happened that will set me up for an even better future.
Next year, I really hope to build on everything that’s happened this year and more. I’d love to focus less on my transition and get back into my hobbies, now that all the hormones, hair removal and social stuff is all established and just needs to be maintained (honestly, I set a reminder to change my estrogen patches twice a week and often do it a little late).

I don’t think the year has quite turned out as expected, and I think that’s really okay! I’ve absolutely been more invested in my hobbies, but it’s not like my own transition and exploration of self has slowed down at all. If anything, this year I feel like I’ve been a lot more introspective and reflective than I ever have been, in this second year of my transition.

I set myself a few goals for the year:

Create and share a piece of music. I have the equipment and the software.
Get back into climbing (covid-pending)
Get therapy. ‘Nuff said.
Get over my fear of surgery and hospitals... in order to investigate whether I’d ever want, say, facial surgery or lower surgery
Start coding for fun again. I miss it. It’s kinda relaxing and helps to keep my passion for tech.
Blog and/or write more. Already working on this! Why wait for the new year?
Create videos? Maybe start a little hobby youtube channel to share stuff I get up to. Maybe vlog style. Maybe instructional style. IDK. I just want to start getting more confident with myself, my image and my voice.
Maaaybe - try and help a couple more folks with navigating their transition? IDK. my message inbox on Twitter has always been open but it really depends if my head is in a good place to help people. 😅

And honestly? I think I’ve done pretty well here, doing things in the year that I very much intended to do, so there’s a lot for me to be proud of myself about. While I haven’t ended up making any music (I have started playing around with my MIDI controller and a DAW—a music making program—at least!), and the idea of coding for fun actually sounds abhorrent, I have ticked off pretty much everything else off this list.

Getting into climbing and finding my community

This time last year, I pretty much exclusively only had community online, on Twitter and on various Discord servers. Throughout 2022, I started to make new connections and join in-person groups and make new friends. Signing up to the Misfits gym group meant that I was able to meet more trans people and start the journey of loving my body where it is, as well as beginning to work on my fitness. Until I caught Covid, that is.

I’ve found incredibly deep and fulfilling friendships as I began my exploration into the queer alternative scenes in London, through which I’ve made some of my best friends who mean so much to me. We’ve got each other through some of the hardest moments of our lives. And on top of this, I found a trans climbing group who genuinely feel like chosen family to me. We show up for each other week in, week out. We gently encourage each other to do what we can and support each other when we’re struggling. Seeing them every Wednesday is always a highlight of my week.

Finding these communities and making friends with other trans folks in London (as well as scattered around the UK) has really helped me feel part of something bigger and positive. I’ve often felt rather disconnected from the community and, for once in my life, I feel like I belong, and that’s really special. And this isn’t at all discounting my group of close friends I’ve chatted to day in, day out on a lil Discord server. However I don’t really kinda consider that group of people online friends, mainly just long-distance friends I’m grateful to see a few times a year. Bloody brilliant people who put up with a lot of my venting, haha.

Therapy and hard realisations

This was the year that I finally got brave and found a therapist, on the recommendation of a good friend of mine. We had thirty sessions in all, and it was not cheap haha. I’m in a really privileged position that I’m able to access therapy and I wish it was available to more queer people, it’s been genuinely life changing for me. Perhaps more than hormones.

I went into these sessions not really knowing what I wanted to get out of them, just wanting to explore myself and what makes me tick, I suppose. And thankfully the therapist I picked actually favoured a more free-form approach to therapy and topics. And in these first couple of sessions we managed to wrangle a few things out of me—my self worth, my approach to friendships, being vulnerable with others, untangling the big jumbled mess of emotion that is my brain, my fear of anything medical-related—and we worked on tackling these.

She was also present to help me during difficult life events, such as breakups, difficult moments with family, revisiting and exploring panic attacks at clubs, and the big build up to my surgery. It’s been refreshing to have this neutral observer to speak my mind to, and for them to ask questions in a way that I could come to my own realisations. The work we did together was really incredible and life changing.

The big snip

Get over my fear of surgery and hospitals... in order to investigate whether I’d ever want, say, facial surgery or lower surgery

Lol. Lmao.

In the space of less than a year, I went from kinda on the fence about bottom surgery and vaguely exploring my options to actually fucking getting it done. My friends helped to point out a lot of the bottom dysphoria I had that I was just disassociating through most of the time, and when I actually noticed it, it was kinda wild. And in therapy we worked through my fear of doctors and medical stuff, exploring its origins and how to manage it, and also exploring my fears specific to bottom dysphoria and going in for a major surgery for the first time.

I’ve created a long video where I talk through my experience, fulfilling another resolution of mine.

The key takeaway is that, there’s been some difficult moments in and out of hospital, but everything went way better than I had planned for. I’ve been for my first climb post surgery, which I now consider myself to be healed. Things look great down there, sensation is fantastic, and I’ve had an overwhelming amount of gender euphoria over the last few months. This has been perhaps one of the best things I’ve done and I have no regrets.

Intentions for 2023

2022 has taught me a lot. It’s had some incredibly difficult challenges and the hardest moments of my life. It’s also contained the best moments of my life and I feel closer than ever to the people around me, despite ending the year way more single than when I started it! I’ve learned a lot about chosen family, displaying vulnerability, setting and enforcing boundaries, and furthering the journey of discovering exactly who Maisie is.

In 2023, I want to be focused on a few key areas.

  • Continue the journey of caring and appreciating myself, and not constantly self flagellating.
  • Revisiting and exploring my relationship to others, focusing on maintaining and building meaningful, vulnerable and enjoyable friendships.
  • Focusing on local community—helping London queers however works best for me without burning myself out, however this manifests itself.
  • Continue maintaining and building my hobbies and interests, these are part of what makes Maisie, Maisie.
  • Learning to say no.

In terms of things I want to do, I have a few ideas but these aren’t complete!

  • Build the London coffee map. People constantly come to me for coffee-related advice or recommendations and I’d love to build a resource to point them to.
  • More YouTube videos! Perhaps just a random mix of the hobbies I enjoy, some trans stuff, y’know. No pressure for consistency, just whatever I feel like doing.
  • Climbing. Achieve some of improvement to the grades I can complete. V3? Idk.
  • Swimming! One of the things I’ve been looking forward to the most since getting bottom surgery is feeling comfortable enough with my body to go for a swim.
  • Therapy round two. Perhaps one round wasn’t enough? I’ll see how I get on.
  • Read more!