Two of my friends are participating in this lovely, very thorough survey, and I would like to follow suit, a few questions at a time.
1. Name. How important is it to you?
I've always had mixed feelings about my name. My first name is Alexandra. It means "defender of mankind." As a name, it has always felt clunky and awkward to me, rather than beautiful, so I prefer to be called Alex, but there are other names I straight up dislike much more than my own. I feel pretty neutral towards my own name. I have felt a lot of pressure over the years to live up to the meaning of my name. I have often felt that the name imbued me with a certain warrior spirit, but left me rather lacking in the defending-people department.
I have two middle names, which has made me feel both awkward and proud of my uniqueness over the years. I am named for my father's grandmother, and for my mother's mother.
Apparently I feel ambivalent about all my names, because that's how I'd describe my feelings about my last name, as well. "Hochstein" is German*. It means High Stone, but it is also the name of a place where you can go hiking, and I have been there and climbed the High Stone. It's a strong name, and I like it well enough. I would strongly prefer to keep it when I marry, rather than adopting Fiende's last name. But as I have grown closer to my mother and my German heritage, and more distant from my father and his family, I have increasingly seen my last name as "my father's name," and have very seriously thought about changing my last name to my mother's maiden name.
Hochstein. I have a photo of me standing here, but I have no clue where it is right now.
*My father is not German, confusingly; his family is Lithuanian/Russian, but given his surname, he obviously he has a German ancestor somewhere back in his ancestry. My father has always believed that his family was probably among a certain wave of Jews leaving Germany for Eastern Europe and essentially took up genealogy in an attempt to find this ancestor and thereby gain German citizenship, but so far that hasn't panned out and he seems to have given up on it as he passed on all the genealogy records to me over the last two years (and I promptly lost the CDs for the family tree builder computer program, oops).
2. Gender. Are you satisfied with being who you are?
I am satisfied with being who I am, yes. I have never really identified with any particular gender. I never really felt like a girl, but I didn't feel like a boy, either. When I was old enough to understand that gender was a spectrum and not a binary, I didn't identify with any of the other options I learned about, either. When Facebook added non-binary options I researched all of them that could possibly apply to me. None of them felt like they fit. I settled on genderqueer, but that doesn't feel right, either. I once heard "agnostic" as not just a term to denote those who are unsure about whether or not there is a higher power, but as an umbrella term that encompassed both that worldview, and also those to whom the question of a deity's existence or non-existence is simply not important. I am gender-agnostic (no, agender doesn't seem to fit me right either). Gender seems utterly unimportant to me. I am not a man or a woman or any other gender. I am a person. End of story. I think identifying with gender labels is an awful idea. I have been mistaken for a boy on numerous occasions, and it doesn't bother me. I get embarrassed, sure, but that's because I don't want to deal with other people's reactions to me being mislabeled. No, I didn't think that being mislabeled was awkward until you decided not to stop talking about it for the past ten minutes, thanks.
I prefer the pronouns she/her but I have absolutely no qualms about you using any others, either deliberately or accidentally, to refer to me. I have a mostly feminine gender presentation, but I often like to appear more masculine, or androgynous. Ideally, I would like to be able to be read as either a man or a woman or androgynous, depending on how I choose to dress myself on a given day. This is part of the reason I love my new pixie cut so much. I've also tentatively begun exploring the men's sections in clothing stores again (I shopped the boy's section on the regular as a kid, before I went and grew boobs and boy's shirts started looking stupid on me) but haven't purchased anything (I did learn all about what's inside men's swimming trunks, though!)
3. Body. Are you satisfied with your physical appearance?
Bearing all of the above in mind, one of the terms did stick out for me during my research of Facebook's new gender options: neutrois. Ironically, I think this was the only word on the list that I'd never at least heard of before. In the most simplistic terms, neutrois is kind of like the androgynous equivalent of being trans. You can be MTN or or FTN, not just FTM or MTF. I don't experience gender dysphoria about not being read as androgynous, but I have often longed- very strongly, at times- to appear that way. I have very seriously considered getting a hysterectomy and breast reduction surgery. That said, I would never apply this label to myself. I simultaneously feel that it is the best label for me and worst.
Basically, Erika Linder is a perfect human being and everything I want to look like and be.
Gender presentation aside, I am satisfied with my physical appearance, yes, though I would like to be slightly taller and have smaller breasts just for the sake of practicality and, okay, I admit it, I absolutely hate my teeth. But the topic here is "body" and there is more to my body than my physical appearance. I am not satisfied with the inner workings of my body. But we will get to that later, it seems.
4. Abilities. What are you particularly good at?
I don't know. Truly I don't. I am pretty okay at writing poetry, sometimes, if my hormone levels are just right or something. I am also pretty okay at photography, but I got a lot better at it when I started using a certain photo editing app on my phone so I'm probably not really that great. I am a boss at reading, although I am absolutely The Worst at retaining what I read. I am good at parking cars. I am particularly good at seeing other people's viewpoints. I'm really good at cleaning at work, but not always so great at doing it quickly, because I'm really thorough unlike some of my coworkers... But my strongest skill is wasting my life away on the internet because I have no hobbies.
5. Mind. Do you feel OK about your intellectual ability?
I used to think I was smart. And I was. I was definitely smarter than my classmates when I was young. But, as tends to happen, they caught up with me and surpassed me. And as tends to happen with children who are told they are smart while growing up, as soon as other people started doing better than me and I started to not understand stuff (basically, as soon as I hit sixth grade math) I stopped thinking of myself as smart. But I'm smart. I've never had to study much to do well. Or maybe I just never challenged myself. The downside to this is that I never developed any good studying skills, and I have no idea how I learn best beyond knowing that I need to take notes with a pen and paper. I've always seen myself as good at abstract concepts, but anything that involves numbers in any way shape or form is pretty much beyond my ability to grasp. I am almost as bad at estimating a person's age or how many people are in a room as I am at calculus. And I failed calculus.[The rest of the questions]
6. Age. Are you comfortable with the age you are now?
7. Birth. How do you feel about where you were born?
8. Culture(s). Where were you brought up? If you have moved between different cultures, what influences has this had?
9. People. Who influenced you most when growing up?
10. Mother. What is your opinion of your mother?
11. Father. What is your opinion of your father?
12. Siblings. What is your opinion of your brothers/sisters? If you have no brothers/sisters what influence has that had?
13. Education. What influence did your education have? What would you like to have achieved which you did not?
14. Employment. List the various jobs you have had, the people you remember associated with those jobs, and the overall influence of the work and the associated people.
15. Spouse. If you are married/in a relationship, how has your spouse influenced you?
16. Children. How have your children influenced you? If you wanted children and were unable to have them how has that influenced you?
17. Unmarried. If you are unmarried or have no partner what influence does that have?
18. Preferences. How do your sexual preferences influence you?
19. Values. What values do you have, and what influence do they exert? Have you taken them over from other people without thought?
20. Beliefs. What are your fundamental beliefs? How did you acquire them?
21. Religion. If you are religious, what influence does that exert? If you have no religion, what influence does that exert?
22. Experiences. What life experiences are significant for you, and why?
23. Health. How have any illnesses or accidents influenced you?
25. Relationships. What relationships in the past are you glad you had, and what relationships do you wish you never had?
26. Circumstances. What life circumstances, past or present, do you welcome and which do you regret?
27. Authority. Who represents authority for you, in the past and now? What influences do these authority figures exert on you?
28. Strengths. What are your major strengths, (and how might these influence your listening to clients?)
29. Weaknesses. What are you major weaknesses, (and how might these influence your listening to clients?)
30. Virtues. What do you consider to be your virtues? How do they influence your behaviour?
31. Vices. do you have any vices, and how do they influence your relationships?