A few days back I had a presentation, so I figured I might as well dress nicely for the occasion. White shirt, black pants, dark blue scarf, and a light floral vest to add some flair to the whole ensemble. I’ve been told that my style is peculiarly mine – it’s not avant garde or whatever, it’s just me. The clothes I wear fit no one else but me, not the way I put them together as an outfit. I’ve been told that a lot, so I’ve largely given up on asking people how I look because they’ll inevitably say that I look like me.
My outfit aside, the presentation was a mess. I’m the kind whose work performance is largely affected by my emotions, and to say I was upset would be an understatement. My partner and I were originally slated to present our assignment at the 10am tutorial class, so I went early just because. We worked on our respective parts of the presentation separately and I thought I should be there early and give my partner my part so that we’d be ready on time. Come 9.45am, my partner sauntered into the building, booted up their laptop, and proceeded to get started on their part of the presentation.
9.45am. Fifteen minutes until showtime, and they’re only just getting started on their presentation. I was getting irritated then, because I fucking woke up at 4am to finish my part. My partner said they went to sleep at 3am doing laundry. Fucking laundry. You couldn’t spend another fucking hour to finish your presentation? What were you doing before you did laundry? This partner of mine, they’re involved in a lot of things and those things take up a lot of their time. I understand co-curricular activities are important in making you a standout graduate, but to the point where you don’t even have the energy or time to finish your actual assignments? The assignments for your fucking major, that you’re going to university for? That’s bullshit. That’s fucking bullshit.
So. Fifteen minutes until showtime and they’re fiddling about making their slides. They finished ten minutes past 10am, and by then the lecturer had already locked us out. I have no problems with this, I think he’s a great guy and it’s perfectly understandable, but it doesn’t change the fact that we thus would have to wait another two fucking hours for the next tutorial class. Way to waste time, asshole. The fuck did I get to the building early for? I could’ve had brunch elsewhere and then show up for the 12pm slot. I don’t even mind going to class early – it’s the fact that we’d agreed on doing the presentation at 10am and your irresponsible ass decided to get started on the presentation 15 minutes beforehand and not managing to finish it on time to the point where we had to go for the next tutorial class. Who the hell fucking does that?
I was upset the whole day, honestly, but most importantly I was still upset during the presentation and so I fucked up because my head wasn’t in it. Bad habit, I know, but it’s hard when your partner is like that. Thought I would’ve learned my lesson from last semester but apparently not.
I actually mentioned my outfit in the beginning of this post for a reason. A friend of mine told me over lunch that he’s impressed at how I balance femininity and masculinity in my bearings. He said it’s a nice balance of both, that I’m manly without coming off as butch and feminine without coming off as weak. I swear like a sailor but smile like a lady. Plays video games like the gamer guys but also super into Korean boygroups. He told me it’s impressive and that it’s a unique style I have, and for the longest time I couldn’t figure out if he was insulting or complimenting me.
I naturally assume the good from people most of the time, so it’s pretty hard for me to understand sneaky insults like that – if it even was an insult. For the most part, I could see where he’s coming from – my bearings are manly in that my gait is quick and powerful, and I mostly walk alone without any need for companionship. I won’t deny that I intimidate people somehow, but that also applies to my ladylike side – I like makeup and I question things and I stand up for what I think is right, and I like beautiful things.
Thinking about it, though, who doesn’t like beautiful things? Is it a purely feminine thing to like floral patterns and handsome men? What about my love for the men’s range when it comes to leather goods? Leather briefcases are hot and I love them – does that make me manly? What defines manliness and ladylike behaviour anyhow? Can a woman not be powerful in her stride? Can a man not be a fan of Cath Kidston? Limiting qualities to only one perspective is so restricting, somehow.
And what does that make me, someone who displays characteristics of both? This duality of humanity, the personification Yin and Yang in one form? I do wonder. People are fluid and ever-changing, and I’ve never thought it mattered to be more feminine or masculine. I project a tough exterior because I’m vulnerable and I want to protect myself, and I pay attention to makeup and my clothes because I want to look beautiful. Ultimately, it’s what the heart wants. It’s what we want to be. It’s not about being feminine, masculine, both, neither, or whatever – it’s about doing what makes you happy. Doing what makes you safe.
If that makes me a duality to the eyes of common folk, then I’m fine with that. I’m just one person who wants to be comfortable in their own skin, and manly or not, that’s not going to change.