It's a question we've all been asked at least a hundred times by family, friends, and on every single job interview we've ever been on; "Where do you see yourself in five years?" Usually, the answer is pretty standard, some sort of generic bullshit answer that is tailored to the person asking the question. Recently, I was asked this question and while I gave the appropriate answer for the situation I was in, deep in the back of my mind, the question kept repeating itself and I found myself getting increasingly anxious because, I had no clue what the answer truly was.
Five years feels pretty far away, and my mind can barely even grasp the concept of being in the year 2023 or being (shivers) 40 years old. Still, there are so many questions about my life, who I am, where I'm going, that the idea of not knowing these answers is terrifying. Will I still work for my current employer or will I have moved on to a different company in my current field? Will I even still be in this field? I'm planning a return to school in the next few months to work on becoming a Social Worker; will I have finally received my degree and started helping others?
But even more important questions linger even deeper than those. What will come of the fertility matters that Kat and I are currently struggling with? Will we finally be parents? Or will that dream go up in flames? And then of course, there's the proverbial elephant in the room… my transition. How can I tell somebody where I see myself in five years, when I'm not even sure who I'll be in five years? Somedays I feel like I'm playing a real-life version of Chutes and Ladders, every time I think I'm progressing, one bad roll of the dice sends me spiraling back down towards the bottom of the board.
"IF I HAVE NO CLUE WHERE I SEE MYSELF IN FIVE YEARS, MAYBE I CAN AT LEAST FIGURE OUT WHERE I WOULD LIKE TO BE IN FIVE YEARS."
If I have no clue where I see myself in five years, maybe I can at least figure out where I would like to be in five years. For starters, obviously, I would like to be a parent. Any frequent readers of mine know how important a family is to me and how much Kat and I have been struggling in order to have children. I've accepted the fact that we will likely only have one child, and I'm perfectly ok with that. So, by 2023, in a perfect world, there will be 3 or 4-year-old running around in my home.
As far as my career is concerned, I hope that I am progressing strongly in my goals to become a social worker, specializing in gender identity. It has become one of my deepest passions to help those who struggle, as I have struggled, to find their true identity and be able to accept themselves for whoever they are. At the same time, I actually love my current job; and while it is certainly not something that I had ever imagined I would make a career out of. Nevertheless, here I am, working in a professional field, and actually doing really well in my role. So at least, if I don't achieve my educational goals, I know that I have a safe career to fall back on and excel at.
"AND THAT BRINGS US TO THE HARDEST PART OF LOOKING AT MY IMAGINARY FUTURE. WHO IS THIS FUTURE ME?"
And that brings us to the hardest part of looking at my imaginary future. Who is this future me? Lately, whenever I'm asked what my preferred pronouns are, I usually tell people that I will answer to anything. I alternate on what name I give on introductions based on how I'm presenting at that time, either going by chosen name of Crystal or my birth name, which I don’t dislike, but will refrain from using now for privacy reasons. Recently, a friend of mine tried something different in addressing me and it became something that unexpectedly stuck within that small group of friends. When introducing me to her semi-religious parents, who she knew would not be thrilled to meet a bearded individual named Crystal, and not wanting to "dead name" me, I was instead introduced strictly using my initial. I don't think she even expected the name "C" to stick, but the next time that our group of friends got together, one by one, each person, including Kat, started referring to me as C.
At first, I wasn’t totally sure how I felt about the new nickname, although I appreciated the thought that went into it, it just seemed too basic to me. However, as Kat and I discussed the name on the way home that night, it quickly grew on me. It's an easy, non-gender specific title that encompasses everything that is necessary as a designation. My appreciation for it grew even more recently when at a party, where half of the group didn't know each other, our host had us all go around and introduce ourselves and required us to announce our pronouns. One of the members of the group, introduced himself as Jim, then listed his pronouns as He, Him, His, or just… Jim; he joked that it worked because it was the same number of syllables and it rhymed. As I considered this, I realized that "C" can even be simple enough to just use as any form of being addressed. If you're talking to me, "Hey C;" if you're talking about me, "it's C's." There's no need for his or hers, it's simple, it's short, it's to the point, but more importantly, it's me. And in the end, that's all that really matters.
So back to the point, who do I want to be in 5 years? I guess the ultimate answer is simple; I want to be me. I want to be, C! Once the fertility struggles are over, I plan on resuming HRT, but there definitely are no plans on any surgical transitions. I don’t even think I want to necessarily work my way up to high levels of hormones. I don't need to grow breasts and I certainly don’t want to lose all use of my genitals. As long as I feel good, and preferably have no facial or body hair, I will be happy. When I feel the male side pulling, I can put on whatever clothes I feel good in that day, when I feel swayed towards the feminine, all I need is a wig and breast forms to complete whatever outfit I've picked out for the day. I can be everything, or I can be nothing, it all depends on my mood.
I guess in the end, the question "Where do you see yourself in five years?" isn’t as scary as I initially thought it was. I may not have a clear picture of where life will be when I turn 40, but I know everything that matters. I know I will have family and friends who love me. I hope that I'll have a job that makes me happy, and I'm confident that I will be living my life as whichever identity feels right for that time. I don't need to know anything else, let the rest be a surprise.