Our feeble human brains love it when two lines connect in a predictable way. For instance, if someone is a writer, we like to imagine that they were always on track to become a writer. Little Stephen at six months old holding a pencil, pretending to take notes at the dinner table. Little Sally Sue, scribbling in the margins of her cardboard book, editing the story to a more desirable conclusion. Presuming someone who has successfully become always knew gives us two points to rely on.
point 1. they wanted to be the thing
point 2. they became the thing.
That means that between point one and two…
THAT PERSON KNOWS THE SECRET TO BECOMING SUCCESSFUL, GET THEM!
This always known narrative isn’t necessary for being successful. Sometimes a writer wasn’t always a writer, they simply became one. Sometimes an artist hated finger painting. Sometimes a construction worker played with Barbies.
I learned this always known narrative in my transgender studies course. Our professor told us that in our society we rely a lot on the always known narrative to verify trans* identities. If someone who is trans* has known their whole lives they were trans they must have gone through a lot of difficult work in order to become trans* and therefore their experience is valid. Simply realizing one day “oh, my god, I’m trans*” is suspicious because it doesn’t provide a narrative, a backstory, an alibi. As though human beings need alibis for doing the exhausting work of figuring out who they are.
Realizing you’re trans* later in life might come as a short quick burst of realizations. You may not know you’re trans* even if you do know because maybe no one ever told you what being trans* felt, or meant. It’s wibbly wobbly.
It’s not at all like becoming a writer. People generally know what being a writer is. They know what it looks like. You can simply become it one day and no one will be too suspicious if you don’t have a backstory. You don’t have to make up some sap about “I just always knew. I liked notebooks so much, you know?” However, that middle story is absolutely an added bonus.
If someone else wants to become a writer and they see that you are a successful writer, they might ask you “please ma’am, what happened between your childhood and now that made you successful, I’d like some tips.” Often times someone pulls tips out of their ass like “well you work hard, sonny, and you write a lot.” This is shorthand for “I have no idea where I am right now or how I got here but as long as I keep pretending like I know what I’m doing people will continue calling me a writer.”
We hang to the middle part, the mystery between point a. and point b. because it gives some kind of explanation to how things became the way they are. It helps guide those who are still lost in the in-between. But it’s unnecessary. You don’t need a plausible evidence to prove you are who you say you are. You already are that person. You do not need validation.
The next time someone asks you if you always knew, and their eyes glaze over, looking for some kind of beautiful story about the struggle you endured to come out the other end of the bullshit, just tell them the truth.