Friday, January 27, 2017

The Adjacent Possible

I have been gathering some ideas to do a write up on how to shop successfully at outlet malls while being transgender.  Though the snarky part of me keeps saying, that'll be a short article; to shop successfully you need to just do it!  There ya go!  Short, simple, sweet, and to the point!  But then, I do understand that I do have a bit of flair in shopping well.  There might just be some tips I could offer to folks that could help give them the confidence to get out there, and just do it!  So an article along those lines will be forthcoming.

In the meantime though, I have been considering that the real big issue that many people face with doing things like dressing in a gender non-conforming manner, or completely crossdressing, and getting out there in the public eye, is fear.  That is a very difficult thing to cope with well.  Fear is a many faceted component living in the reality of almost all of us.  Fear can be a good thing.  It can help to keep us safe.  But the problem is often distinguishing when our fears are keeping us safe and when our fears are limiting us.

Far too often in my own life I can look back and see how my path was altered by fear and I really wish that it hadn't.  Oh sure, there are times that I followed my fear for the better, like when I pondered jumping over the railing while visiting the Grand Canyon.  But come on, jumping over that railing would have obviously been just stupid.  

What about this past Sunday though?  I was dressed in sort of a half and half manner with female jeans and shoes, and a male fleece top on, with small forms in my bra.  I decided to go into Designer Shoe Warehouse, but the problem was that I was terrified.  Seriously.  I dress this way all of the time and I am fine with it.  Or so I think!  The reality was that before I got out of the car, I almost took my forms out about 100 times.  I kept laughing at myself.  Really, with my nails painted, carrying a purse, in female jeans and shoes, and with female jewelry on, I was freaking out about having obvious breasts??  

I was.  I really was.  I was almost panicking.  Trust me when I said, I felt fear.  True fear.  Fear of possible super negative consequences or events and situations that I might be placed into that I knew I wouldn't want to be into.  Almost like jumping over the railing of the Grand Canyon! 

I read about something this morning that I think helps explain what I do when I am faced with an almost paralyzing sense of fear.  It is called The Adjacent Possible.  In order to get out of the car, all I thought about was doing just that, getting out of the car.  Sure I knew that the ultimate plan was to go into the shoe store and spend time perusing the aisles, but for that one moment, all I thought about was getting out of the car.  Then I did it.  The next thing was to force myself to just walk across the parking lot towards the store.  Which I did.  Then it was, to just go into the store.  Which I did.  The next was to walk to the women's shoes and start looking at them.  Which I did.  Next was to find a pair of shoes I liked and to sit down and try them on.  Which I did.  

Okay, I've belabored the point.  The thing is, you can't look at the entire event, only look at what the very next thing is.  By looking at the whole project it often paralyzes us, because it is just too much.  So by only looking at the very next step, it appears to be far more possible.  Thus you have The Adjacent Possible.  And that is how I do the things I do, only I generally reference it as facing my fears.

Now this is how I heard it described in this month's Popular Mechanics issue, but if you do some research on Stuart Kaufman, you can read the creator's thoughts about The Adjacent Possible.  His ideas on how it is described is a bit different.  I still think the theory of it is true for the situations I am discussing.  Steven Johnson also has an interesting take on it as well.  I really like that little video clip by the way.

I just really thought I should mention this little tid bit about me.  Frequently people seem to think that I have no fear and that I don't hesitate when being out and about in my various forms of dress.  The thing is, I am terrified, but I do it anyway.  I honestly think that is the case for most people that get things done.  We are terrified, but do it despite that.

Get out there people!  Face your fear, one adjacent possible thing at a time.  Start small.  Do the first step, then do the next, and the next and the next..... and pretty soon, you will achieve what you once thought was not possible!

Love you!

Love yourselves!

Take that step!

Find that adjacent possible!

Do it for yourself!

Do it because it will help you to love yourself and to stop being so afraid, especially of yourself!

photo credits:


  1. Nadine, I'm with you on the fear issue. "Fear"is a widely subjective term, but I think at the most basic, none of us want to be embarrassed, regardless of how we are dressed. I am no different. Tell someone they have a smudge on their cheek and they casually lift their hand and use you as a mirror to find the smudge and wipe it away. Tell someone they have something hanging from their nose and they will nearly knock themselves out reaching to cover up! It's relative. I think sucking it up and being resolute in your plan is the answer. By being resolute, you exude confidence. You quickly realize that this fear of embarrassment you had is no different than any other everyday fear. So embrace the "what if." What if someone says something? Your life would go on if you had a booger hanging from your nose. It will go on if someone says, "Hey, that's a dude."

    1. Thanks Jen!

      I agree with being resolute, but even with that, I find it amazingly difficult to follow through with what I have planned. I just kind of wanted to point out that things can get done, even if your feel fearful.