birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Grey Area

When I was little, my parents made me play baseball. I really hated it, and I was not good at it either. My dad used to take me out to the backyard and play catch with me. He would yell at me to stop throwing like a girl. I would get so angry, because even if I wanted to stop throwing like a girl, how could I? Then I would cry, and my dad would tell me to use my anger to stop throwing like a girl. Ugh.

I never questioned whether or not I was a girl, but I never particularly liked girly things. I didn't like anything that itched, like lace. I never had long hair like my cousin Julie did. I don't remember if that's because I never wanted it or because my mom wanted me to have a haircut that was easy to take care of.

I got boobs when I was 8. My mom bought me a training bra. I thought it was the most uncomfortable thing I'd ever experienced. I refused to wear it until 6th grade, when I overheard a boy making fun of me for not knowing I had boobies yet.

By then I was the tallest kid in my entire school. I think my height made me feel even less feminine. At that age, girls around me started to be interested in makeup. I was curious about makeup, but I never learned how to put it on well. It seemed odd to me that women and girls should go around wearing something to conceal their own faces. At the same time, I was jealous of my best friend, who put makeup on every day. She fit in in a way that I didn't know how to.

My prom dress was feminine, but a deep chocolate brown. By then I had learned with my first boyfriend that breasts gave me a certain power. They made me feel sexy and wanted.

I've been thinking about gender a lot lately because I made a new friend who is transgender. Seeing him fully transition into the body he always knew he was meant to have is profoundly beautiful. I'm so proud of him for living his truth.

It makes me wonder, what is MY truth about my own gender? Have I ever let myself really consider it?

Last summer, I decided to get an undercut, which means that my head is shaved on the sides and in the back. I'd been eying them on other women enviously for at least a year, before one day it dawned on me that the only thing holding me back from getting one was my own fear.

I cut ten inches of hair off for that haircut. I didn't regret it for a second, not even when the clippers came up sharp against my scalp.

Sense of Worth