1. Your gender does not dictate what you should and shouldn’t like. You can like whatever you want. You can mow lawns and care about what you wear. You can get a pedicure and work on a farm. You can love shopping and love sports. You learn to not limit yourself to what you enjoy because you find the human experience to be too complex to categorize it.
2. Confidence is key to living a life that makes you happy. When you take the road less traveled, you will need to learn to be confident. It may come naturally, it may not. You may have to fake your confidence in the beginning and that is okay. Because eventually you will truly believe that you are incredible, that outside opinions only matter so much, and you are the one who gets the last say in who you are.
3. People will learn to accept what they do not understand. At first, people may find it peculiar that you step outside the box or that you throw the entire box in the recycling bin. They may even verbally critique you because a strong sense of individuality is bound to confuse people; it is natural for people to fear what they do not understand. You will need to be patient, you will need to be kinder than you wish to be necessary, but you will also need to respect yourself in the process. It may take time but one by one, more people will begin to let their curiosity take hold.
4. You benefit from being immersed in feminine and masculine activities (as defined by society). You learn to never let your gender limit what you learn. Teaching yourself how to use power tools or a sewing kit will prove to be beneficial in the long-run. Having a varied skill set makes you an all-around knowledgeable individual and if we are being pragmatic—a desirable employee.
5. You can make a difference if you defy the odds. In this life, there will be a small amount of people that will love what they love without fear of condemnation. And if you wish to live a full life, a life with few regrets of what you did and didn’t do, you may have to defy the odds. You may have to let people judge you. You may have to endure the whispers. In the end, you will create a new path or continue on one that was made for you, for yourself and for others who desire to do the same. You will make a difference.
6. Physical strength isn’t the most important type of strength. It feels good to be able to lift a certain amount of weight in the gym and taking care of your body is a desirable priority. You can be physically strong, yes, and that can even contribute to your emotional health. However, when life gets difficult, being emotionally strong is what will matter most. Crying is okay, feelings are okay, and sharing your hardships with those you love is what will save you.
7. You can truly be anything you want to be. When you are young, you believe you can do anything. You have a twinkle in your eye, you are determined to changed the world and as we grow older, we can lose that confidence for multiple reasons. Having a parent that teaches you (intentionally or unintentionally) to forget about gender stereotypes allows you to grow up with a mentality that you can work towards being firefighter, you can be a director, you can be a computer scientist, no matter what gender you identify with.
8. You learn to accept yourself for who you are. It sounds cliché. It really sounds like it should be on a Hallmark card but at the end of the day, accepting yourself for who you are and what you enjoy can lead to a happier life—for you and those who love you.