A couple of months ago I was on Twitter when I saw someone pose a question. "We are in the last month of the end of a decade, what have you accomplished?"
My initial thought was, nothing. How depressing.
That was because I was judging my life by the atypical milestones and accomplishments that most people have by my age. House, marriage, children, successful career.
I don't have a house that I own, I'm not married and I don't want children. People tend to judge a successful career as being doctor, a solicitor, a business owner etc. That isn't my career; however I not only enjoy my job, but it is also worthwhile and I do, in a small wheel of the cog, make a difference to people's lives.
If you look at the list above, all the things that you are expected to have achieved and done, there are some that would say that you are failing in your life. But life is not just about those things.
The truth is that I am a completely different person to the woman I was in 2010. This blog may be anonymous but I think that I can share my story here as I think it is important for me to note it, remember it, remind myself of how far I have come.
2010 me hno confidence, no self worth, no voice, no opinions. I needed validation from others as I could not validate myself. The previous decade had been lost to depression and I was determined to change. To find myself and be myself instead of trying to be what I thought others would like more.
The change was started by joining Twitter. I joined to find fellow Formula One fans online and by chance, I came across a blog post, the first I had ever read. She was a fashion blogger who wasn't the typical size 8, something I didn't know existed. She had confidence in bounds and talked so well about not just confidence, but other topics and shared things from her life that I could associate with well.
I started my own. I was terrified. But slowly, I started posting more, working with brands, going to events, networking. My wardrobe changed from a sea of black to colours, prints and many, many dresses. I also started writing about what I felt, about subjects that I felt passionate about. My love of writing that I always knew I had, allowed me to heal in so many ways. My thoughts flowed through my fingertips on to the screen in a way that I could never truly express before.
Fast forward a few years and my writing was less about fashion and more about topics and opinions. By then I was also working with brands and PR firms writing advertorial content which nicely topped up my full time job income.
But then. Then the last couple of years happened and my world changed again. On a massive scale.
By 2018 I had fallen into left wing politics and intersectional feminism. I wrote about both a lot on my blog and I now felt confident in expressing my thoughts and opinions both off and online.
I have always wanted to learn more and if I am interested in a subject, I research. I look into both sides so that I can talk with some background knowledge. I believe that life is about learning, whether academic or just becoming more knowledgeable about the world you live in. Be it politics, feminism, different cultures, etc.
I came across an article about a cyclist called Rachel McKinnon. A transgender woman who was beating biological woman on the track. Not just beating, but winning races, creating record times. Not surprising really. That is what sent me, like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, into gender critical thinking.
I had always previously been of the opinion, and in the main still am, of let people be what they want to be. What was the harm in respecting others?
But suddenly it was not just about respecting that some men identified as women. It wasn't about respecting pro nouns of those people who went down that path. The worm had turned, seemingly overnight but I suspect (and know) and that the topic had not come across my path until that point.
Suddenly, it was no longer just about respect. It was activists saying that trans women were actual women. That lesbians should accept "lady dick". That 12 year old girls having double mastectomies was normal. That immediate affirmation was more important that making sure that someone was actually on the right path. That self ID instead of the current GRA rules was the only acceptable way forward and to disagree, was to be a TERF, a transphobe.
I started tweeting a lot about the subject and quickly found that my views were not acceptable to the PR firms and clients I worked with. I was advised to be more PC. I could not do that. I stopped writing on my blog, deleted my 9 year Twitter account and refused further work. I could not and would not bend the knee. I lost my part time income, but it was more than worth it.
The groups that I had previously been part of and helped me to find my confidence, were now shunning and banning me. That hurt. I was talked about and actively ostracized. I was told that I no longer belonged in feminism, yet I never felt more a feminist in my life.
But what I lost, I gained in spades. The gender critical community were massively supportive. I felt, and feel, like I had found my people. People who believed that women's rights were being lost and needed to be protected. People who believed and knew, of course, that biological sex is immutable. People who, like me, had to be anonymous now because of the waves of attacks from people who claimed to be on the left and the most progressive.
What they are, and I quote the amazing Magadelen Burns here, are people who are so woke that their brains fell out.
So where I am now ending 2019 in comparison to how it started?
I have confidence. I have self worth. I have a voice and am not afraid any more to say what I think. If you follow my Twitter, you more than know the last one.
My depression and anxiety has been better than it has in the last twenty years. My dysthymia, which for years I didn't even recognise that I had, is improving but that is a battle. One I think that I am slowing winning.
I am part of an amazing community of people who fights back against trans activists and supports women and our rights. They inspire me and teach me every single day.
I am, for the first time in my adult life, in a relationship with a man who is amazing. Some who not only treats me wonderfully but also encourages me to say the things I am scared to say. To learn more. To be braver. To be the person I really am, without fear.
All in all? I have had a bloody good decade. Here's to 2020.