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Stepping Out – Beating the Fear II

More wisdom from Kris!

By Kris Burton

Part II – From Theory to Practice/What I’ve Learned

[Editorial comment: Happiness personified!]

Like so many of our persuasion, I have come to find stepping out into the community en femme a high point in my overall CD experience. In Part I of this totally unscientific study I applied the techniques usually associated with combating the performance anxiety that often plagues performers and public speakers to the challenge of a shy CD – myself – going out publicly. After my brief and rather impulsive first try several weeks previous, I was anxious to see how it would go with my new attitude and approach.

As it turns out this second outing – my first real one as I now see it – was far more productive, instructive and one that could be built upon. It was the middle of the day as I drove to the local mall. I was very nervous as I parked my car – there were people all around! I sat in the car gathering emotional strength and then forced my skinny jeaned, suede booted, pink sweatered, long brunette wigged, lightly makeupped self into the light and walked to the entrance. My self-consciousness was so heightened. I was aware of every step I made. Still, I felt I was in very familiar psychological territory. It seemed to me I was experiencing the natural “jitters” of live performance – good old fashioned “stage fright”. I knew then I could beat it . I continued to forge ahead and eliminated all thoughts of turning back, turning those nerves into the excitement of the moment at hand. As I approached the door to the mall I caught a glimpse of myself in the window. It was the image of a woman, and that woman was me. At that point I was able to say to myself “You’ve got this”!

The rest of my experience was as exhilarating and exciting as a performance should be and hoped it would be. I found I was able to walk through the mall as freely as I do when I am presenting as my male self. I had been told by my more experienced CD friends that the other folks at the mall would be paying little or no attention and I indeed found that the case. Still, I had prepared to interact at least on a limited basis, and did so. In a very matter of fact fashion I used the ladies rest room and dressing rooms without question. Using just a lighter version of my natural voice I was able to order my lunch without seeming to attract undue notice. I was even was treated to a couple of “ma’ams” from the waitress and had the door held for me be another male customer. I was out and about for four hours at least, and I must say I never had so much fun doing such everyday activities.

So what have I learned? I found the experience was indeed similar to preparing for a performance, at least from my point of view. My excitement was heightened as I chose to focus on what could go right as opposed to what could go wrong, which went far into reinforcing my confidence in a way my haphazard first experience could not. The comfort in my presentation and surroundings eased my self- consciousness and I felt more and more like I “fit in” as the day progressed, just as you feel more comfortable on stage once you begin. This small first has become a building block in taking on more challenging venues and wearing the more dressy attire that I favor. A fine restaurant, concert or venue that might require more elaborate interaction now seemed within reach, and all have been since.

I’ve also learned that although stepping out publicly can FEEL like overcoming stage fright, it differs in a significant way – one that is actually helpful when you realize it. Unlike a stage presentation, you are not the focus of attention. Even though it may feel like every eye is upon you in truth those around you are far more focused on their own dealings than yours. Unless you do or wear something that deliberately attracts attention – in which case you probably don’t need this account – it is likely you will be able to walk as easily through the crowd as you would at any other time, just prettier. Finally realizing you can drop the hyper self- consciousness and the negativity that it breeds can prove to be a confidence builder in itself.

Can your initial experience be made easier still? I think so. As any performer will tell you it is much easier to take the stage as part of a group than a solo act. I found this is the case if you go out and about with another or several of your friends as well– and perhaps even more fun. Although it is more likely that you will be noticed it is even less likely you will be approached, and any self-consciousness you will experience will be distributed among you. If you’ve ever played in a band or sung in a choir you know what I’m talking about. Sheer numbers can breed security and confidence, and can become a wonderful shared experience you can all remember.

However, a warning: I have found that stepping out publicly is highly addictive! If you are like me you will find that after success you will want to do it more and more, just like performing onstage. You may find you’ll invent the need to go to the supermarket or take some nature pictures at the park en femme. I do that sort of thing regularly now, and hope to find more opportunities to connect with others that feel the same way.

I hope you find my essay helpful in breaking through the barrier that may be holding you back. If you can so many adventures lie ahead. They are yours to enjoy!


11 Responses

  1. Kris,
    I’ve been going out regularly for several years now mostly thanks to the stories here. I think your observation is correct most people around you are too involved in their lives to notice you and those that do, in my case, have responded kindly. The more I go out the more addictive it is and the more I look for excuses to go out. Dressed to the nines I’ve attended the theater and the ballet. I’ve found that on Sunday around noon you will not be the only one in a dress at the grocery store. So I took Kandi’s advise a started to attend church. I get lots of compliments from women, young and old, at how put together I am. I had a young lady tell me last week that she looked forward to coming to see what I would be wearing. I have breakfast before church usually in the same restaurant, last week the waitress and the manager bought mine. The waitress told me, your breakfast in on us, because you keep coming back and are a genuinely a nice person. I almost cried.

    1. Hi Vanessa – Thank you – your examples further confirm my observations. If you have a welcoming church that is certainly another destination, and your tip about the restaurant and Sunday around noon at the grocery store is spot on for wearing a dress unnoticed – it’s an idea i have contemplated but yet to do – I will now!

    2. Vanessa,

      Forgive me jumping in on Kris post, but your comments fill me with great pride! Well if you almost cried, your post made me cry!

      This makes what we do here so meaningful!

  2. Great account of your outing and I’m glad it went so well.

    Understanding that the rest of humanity has far more pressing things on their mind than wondering whether our chromosomes match our presentation is key and doesn’t half make life easier once we realise that!

    Nice account from Vanessa too; like your account, it all just goes to show that effort on our part can pay dividends in so many ways.

    1. Hi Amanda – Glad you enjoyed part II! I also agree with you wholeheartedly – recognizing that although we feel like we are the center of attention we are not, unless we do something to put ourselves there. Realizing that goes a long way into making our en femme adventures much more achievable!

  3. Kris,
    You’re so right in saying it can become addictive , why do we want more ? I don’t feel there’s a single answer the question is more complex .
    Having a definite plan does help , instead of a little window shopping having a ” must do ” list jusifies the effort , it may help in taking your mind off the passing question . Supermarket shopping may sound boring but it can help if you have doubts about blending , skills can be practiced in public without attracting too much attention , walking , bending , stretching in a more feminine way , it’s lovely when you get stopped by the staff because they want to chat to you .

  4. H Teresa – I’m glad you enjoyed part II! Yes, supermarket shopping is a great place to hone and practice your skills, while at the same time having more fun doing it than ever before. That alone can keep you coming back!

  5. I know when I had my first real outing many years ago I really did overthink things
    I just knew being tall I would be easily clocked, but once out I realized very few paid me any attention
    Then after a few times out I realized if I’m perceived as a trans women than that ok as long as my encounters with people are pleasant and I can say nearly everyone has been
    Kandi always says be smart and appropriate and I’ve taken that advice each time
    My regular outings now are my grocery shopping just like any women

    1. HI Rachael – I’m glad you could relate to my post. How right you are also – all of us should read Kandi’s “Rules of the Road” as you obviously have. They are sage for anyone desiring to step out.
      And isn’t grocery shopping so much more fun now?

  6. Hi Kris: As a musician and former music educator myself, I understand completely your analogies and feelings regarding going out and performing. Group performances are definitely more relaxed than solo. On the other hand I have not gone out with any other CDs so I don’t know if that would be easier or harder. I commend you for going out in your hometown. That’s something I don’t do–mainly because I don’t want to be out in my small city and to many people know me here through teaching and community music work. Ditto for church (I am the music director) I agree totally about the excitement of going out and the addictiveness of that experience. I have been to concerts and theatre and just enjoy the experience. If someone talks to me, great, and if not, that’s ok too. Dropping that feeling of hyper self-consciousness is hard but the more one goes out the less self-conscious it is. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    1. HI Donna – I’m glad you liked my post and it had resonance for you. I’ve found group trips more relaxing and fun, altho it is more likely you will be noticed. For me the tradeoff in being with and enjoying the company of friends is well worth it. Going out and about in my hometown is easy for me because I’m I don’t feel that my feminine persona does not very closely resemble my male self. My wife is not entirely comfortable with this tho, so I do it very sparingly.

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