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How changing my pronouns helped my confidence

The Croft Magazine // Arri Mongok talks through their recent pronoun change and how it helped them gain confidence and self love.

By Arri Mongok, Second Year, LLB Law

The Croft Magazine // Arri Mongok talks through their recent pronoun change and how it helped them gain confidence and self-love.

A huge issue I encountered when starting this article was where to begin. I could start by saying that gender roles are a product of the patriarchy and that we should ignore them. I could detail about how limiting they can be, how restricting. All of this is true. However, in identifying the root of gender roles, we must also analyse how we can recover from the expectations and standards that it creates.

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What are femininity and masculinity? And why do we attach expectations to these labels? Honestly, I have no clue how I would describe femininity or masculinity without sounding like a kindergartener. Femininity and masculinity are delicate terms that mean much more than the label we attach to biological females and males. Once you start becoming semi-comfortable with your body and appearance and learn how you like to dress, present and wear your hair, should that not be just you? People can be feminine presenting. I usually am. But attaching that label to myself at all times feels restrictive. That is not me.

My struggle with gender roles and confidence started when I shortened my first name from Aruay to Arri. Odd. I liked just being ‘Arri’, sometimes I add a cherry emoji. It felt like a character that reflected my personality, fashion and aura better than anything I have ever been referred to as. How is this significant to gender roles? Well, my name change started a reflection on my pronouns as well. I am Arri, not she, not he. Just Arri. Targeted ads seemed to have read my uncertainty and started showing videos about being non-binary or identifying as ‘they/them’ and it all just made sense. Before I told my friends about my new pronouns, I tested the waters with my Instagram handle and loved seeing the ‘Arri*cherry emoji* they/them’. I felt confident.

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Battling with pronouns creates a disconnect between who you are and what you are used to being viewed as. Personally, my disconnect started with my name and grew from there. Labels and difficult conversations can be had after self-love is established. Cliché? I know. I’m not suggesting you reach self-actualisation before changing your pronouns on your Instagram. I am suggesting you think about how you fancy presenting. Who are you? Then think about all the labels and details later, or remain label-less.

All in all, I still mis-gender myself today. But I know who I am and how I feel. I am confident and comfortable being ‘Arri’.

Featured image: Unsplash / Vincent Tint

What changes have you made to improve your confidence? Let us know!