Hello, I’m Hannah McKnight

How many times on this website have I written the words “life is about_______”. Life is about a LOT of things so I suppose it’s not surprising that I use (and overuse) this phrase a lot.

Anyway, part of being ALIVE is knowing that you’ll probably be humbled at different points of your life in a few different ways. It is not always a bad thing to be taken down a peg or two. Speaking for myself I know I definitely need this to happen on occasion.

And although when this occurs I tend to get defensive or bitchy and it brings out the worst in me, I am usually and reluctantly in agreement of being reminded that I although I might excel at something on occasion that I am not flawless.

A few years ago in therapy I worked on the extreme swings of feeling like I was queen (or king) of the world and feeling like I was the worst person alive. These feelings were prevalent in all aspects of my life/lives… whether it was my femme world or my career or hobbies or relationship.

Therapy, perspective, medication, and time helped modulate this. And I am thankful for this. Keeping my ego in check is healthy AND being able to bounce back from a bad day or a disappointment has helped me with everything.

Sometimes a reality check can stem from being humbled. Falling flat on one’s face (whether metaphorically or otherwise) can be humiliating but sometimes it pushes your ego down a few notches.

Of course, sometimes a fall is just a fall and not a life lesson but sometimes you’re reminded that God or life has a sense of humor.

How many times have I strut through a mall thinking I was The Most Beautiful Girl in the World only to catch my reflection and see HIM staring back at me? How many times have I prided myself on my skill in stilettos only to trip?

On my best days I laugh and tell my ego to calm down a little when these things happen.

You can’t live a life without mistakes. The more you do, the more new things you attempt, the more often you go out of your comfort zone the more likely you will stumble. It happens. It is inevitable. They could be big mistakes or a zillion small ones, but try not to expect flawless results when you do anything… whether it’s something new or something you’ve done countless times.

Every person reading this knows the challenges with this side of us. How many times have we thrown down a makeup brush in frustration when we just couldn’t blend our foundation the right way? How many stockings have we run? How many times have we screamed because our eyeshadow and eyeliner is perfection on one eye but a complete disaster with the other?

Oh I could go on.

The only way to avoid these moments is to never pick up makeup or pretty clothes. Ever. No matter how much time passes I know I will struggle with some aspect of my transformation. I might have a day where I just can’t hook my bra for some reason or I run three stockings or my hand shakes when I apply my lipstick.

We’re going to have off days. And we’re going to have days when we soar.

I have to remind myself of all of this whenever I do ANYTHING… whether it’s something new or something I’ve done every day for years… or something that I do en femme that I can do blindfolded or without a second thought in boy mode.

Case in point:

I work in education and I’ve been put on the spot in meetings or whatever countless times to chat about something. I’ve been asked at the last minute to take over someone’s presentation at my college’s orientation or what have you. And sure, easy. I am somewhat comfortable with public speaking and I’ve done it pretty often.

But it’s a new world with Hannah.

With my website I can write and rewrite and replace words or edit something, even after it’s posted. In the real world Hannah’s interactions are either small talk with a cashier or chit-chat with a friend. Easy-peasy.

I knew doing videos wasn’t going to be like that. And it terrified me. I knew it would be humbling. A photo doesn’t show my movement, you can’t hear my voice, or how quickly I speak. I would need to be spontaneous and relaxed (which are not words ANYONE I know would use to describe me).

I was, and am, terrified I will disappoint or underwhelm En Femme, to be honest. I am excited for this new project in our partnership but I don’t want to let them down. These videos rely on the technology cooperating and my performance, I suppose. Everything needs to work, everything needs to click.

Thank God Shannonlee is there. Doing anything with a professional takes the pressure off. Doing anything with a friend keeps it fun.

Life is about (see? Here’s that phrase again) bouncing back from an error and being able to laugh at yourself. When I do stumble in heels I get embarrassed but I do think it’s a little funny and my ego goes back to normal.

I think it’s good for me to humble myself, to be honest. To put my feelings and thoughts out there that remind me that I am not perfect. Not that I think I am perfect, mind you. But I think it’s important to remind myself that I am human and I’m going to make a lot of mistakes. It’s okay to post a photo if I really like it, BUT it’s also okay to post something that is flawed or a disaster. I suppose it’s not unlike a peek behind the curtain of the creative process.

It’s not a bad thing (for me, anyway) to intentionally humble myself. Sometimes to prove a point I will post a picture that I feel is, well, not my best. Maybe it helps other? I get very nice emails saying very nice things about my picture or my presentation but I also have hundreds of photos on my laptop that are…horrendous. We all start somewhere and my early photos are examples of that. I am not a beauty queen and my presentation didn’t just happen… it took years. Time, patience, and money, remember?

When Shannonlee and I started filming last week I had no idea how these videos would turn out. Annnd I didn’t want to, lol. Sometimes creation is ugly. Sometimes you feel creating something decent is impossible when you are up to your neck in the process. During the shoot I would look at a clip that we shot and it was… well, humbling. Part of me wanted to scrap everything and rethink and redo it all. Part of me wanted to quit.

But we soldiered on.

Yesterday I uploaded most of what we shot and with a wish and a prayer I hoped that En Femme would be happy with what they have to work with. But honestly? If we do need to reshoot I am happy to do so. Shannonlee learned a ton from this shoot and I honestly think the next videos will be better. I am more excited than ever now that the first session is out of the way.

As I said, I need to intentionally put myself in situations where I know it’s not my best work OR I’m opening the door to criticism. So! Here’s a short clip of what we shot that day. I don’t think this will be used in the final video but it’s very much behind the scenes and one of the first things we filmed that day.

So that’s my voice and my constant fidgeting.

What do you think?

Love, Hannah

Video Killed the Blogging Star

So… this weekend Shannonlee and I shot our first two videos for the En Femme series called “Help Me Hannah”.

Anyway, do you ever stand in male mode in front of the mirror, with your makeup spread out all over the counter and your outfit for the day hanging up behind you? And you start to wonder how this is going to go? What is this going to look like?

Goodness I know that feeling. I have that feeling every time I am at the precipice between BOY and GIRL. My middle aged male self is staring back at me, almost taunting me. How are you going to turn THIS into HER?

Like going on a quest, you have to get help from others and you need to prepare. Frodo didn’t go alone, after all.

My armor is a corset and a dress. My companions are my makeup artist and photographer. With their help I can rid my mirror of masculinity.

…where was I going with this?

Everything new we do in life, especially en femme, is an adventure outside of our comfort zone. Much of the hesitation we have when we do this is unknowing what will happen or how things will turn out. We fear the unknown, we fear failure.

I am very glad I have taken the chances I have. Whether it was taking the chance of when I started the MN T-Girls or contacted various designers for modeling opportunities or booking a professional photo shoot. All of these chances led to amazing moments that have enhanced my life. Even going out of the house en femme was, and still is, a huge step.

But they all have been with a huge amount of hesitation, fear, and trepidation… all rooted in not knowing how things will turn out.

This past weekend was very much like that. When Shannonlee and I arrived at the studio to shoot the videos we were both about to embark on something new. Between the open suitcase filled with clothes and various audio recording gear spread out on a counter it was a little overwhelming and intimidating.

Doing something new is always easier with a friend and I’m glad that these new projects are another opportunity to work with her. Her honesty and feedback and friendship, along with her photographer’s eye is a blessing.

With the ring light charged and the microphone snapped onto her camera, we bit the bullet and dived in.

We recorded, re-recorded, started over, started again. We laughed, I tripped over my words, I babbled, I went off-script, tried again, and again and again.

I wanted to, more or less, adapt my writings into video presentation. But my fear was, and is, not knowing how if I could do it. You know, the fear of not knowing how something will turn out. I tend to be a very careful writer (but I still make spelling errors and grammatical mistakes). I write, I edit, I rewrite, I start over. When I speak, I try to speak slowly as I am trying to choose my words carefully so I can avoid not being misunderstood. I am not always very spontaneous and it’s sometimes hard to know where I am going when I start talking.

I had an outline of what I wanted to say and the points I wanted to make. I didn’t want to come off as if I was reading cue cards or anything like that. I wanted to appear genuine and sincere. I wasn’t trying for perfection, I expected a few ums and ahs and that’s okay.

I am not sure how many minutes of video we shot. I have no idea how the editor will work her magic with what we filmed. But I’ve also wondered how my makeup artist will work with what I bring her and I’ve also wondered how Shannonlee will be able to get a decent photo of me.

Working with professionals is amazing. I love seeing talented people take something and turn it into something beautiful and amazing. It’s like watching a chef turn a pile of ingredients into a delicious meal or an artist taking paint to a canvas.

I was more relaxed than I thought I would be but I am still wrought with anxiety. What if the microphone didn’t work as well as it should have? What if every minute we filmed is unusable? What if I spoke too quickly?

I am trying not to overthink. This is a learning process.

One of the unknowns about all of this was whether or not I would enjoy doing these things. And I did! More than I thought I would. I learned what went well and what didn’t and I have ideas for the next one.

I’ve no idea when the videos will be posted but I promise I’ll be sure to tell you. Just be gentle with your feedback. 🙂

Love, Hannah