I was never given the opportunity to be me. I grew up in a household with a very masculine and angry father, living in a community that was overwhelmingly male dominated and conservative. Any HINT of being different in ANY way led you to be bullied and attacked, until you fell back in line with the stereotypes. I know, because while I was not open about my gender (not even being aware of what it really meant), I was attacked for being not as masculine as others desired me to be....weak, in their point of view.
As I grew up, I was pressured into joining the military, as my father had been in it and my brother had joined. My father.....undoubtedly feeling it was his responsibility to make a man out of me...took me hunting, against my will, and took me to work sites, where he didn't even take my more masculine brother. I remember him saying that by the time he was done with me, I would either learn to love it or hate it. When he got to feeling guilty, he would tell me about his father punishing him more sternly or how his father had thrown him into a lake to teach him to swim....as if that changed how I was feeling.
In the military, I was always the target of superior sargents and others that felt it their duty to toughen me up and make me harder an less sensitive. I did as they said and learned to excel at the formalities of being a soldier.
After the military, I was criticized in college for not being one of the guys talking about women or going off roading in a truck or more. I would get married to someone from one of those colleges that knew who I was ....met me as I was listening to music and taking pictures on the campus and heard about my personality in our conversations. However, her father would criticize me for not making enough and pushing me to make more money (which I would reject to a large part, as I was trying to be myself). In the end, I would be forced to join the military, AGAIN, to cover the large expenses of wife and family.
However, even in my job making money in the military for the family, I would fail to be manly enough or respected FOR the sacrifice I was making, and my wife at the time literally LEFT THE FAMILY to go work in a management job in another state....WHILE I was living a life I did not like at her request.
After exiting the military, I was faced with the situation where my daughter had ADHD and the school was unable and unwilling to adjust to it, forcing me to begin homeschooling her, which I did as a means of testing the waters of being feminine...as my wife had already assumed the money earning role, while I was working, and there was no one at home.
For the next several years, I did enjoy that freedom and BEGAN to consider what it would be like to live that way. However, I had to do so in secret, as I still had to pretend to be the "man of the house" to my wife and to everyone on the outside. Any inkling that I was feminine would have me condemned in my conservative community. I ALSO had to be the literal man of the house to take care of bills and punishments of our daughter and so on, as my wife ...while earning money took none of the responsibility of paying bills or managing the household.
In time, that marriage would end, because I finally got fed up with not being respected by my wife INSIDE the house or OUTSIDE of it, and she failed to show the desire or give the provision that any other woman in the house would receive. However, by that time, I had already earned a masters degree and got an accounting job to pay for family bills (which was not respected by her), and I was led into working MASCULINE jobs, where I was expected to MANAGE people or be a businessMAN or such.
As time went on and going into future dating adventures and my second failed marriage, I would be seen NOT in the light I painted myself but in the light of my RESUME and past choices made for others. To the early dating adventures, I was not manly enough....they would like me for my personality but reject me for not being masculine enough...a cycle repeated over an over and over. I will say that my second wife enjoyed my personality more than the others and remains my friend...her gal pal in many ways. However, that marriage ALSO failed because I failed at masculine projections and expectations....expectations that NO WOMAN in my position would face.
I say all of that to say this. I never got the chance to really be me or to live the life that matched EITHER my personality or desires. At every point, I was being pressured with pressures that NO WOMAN would have faced. No woman would have been taken hunting or working to toughen them up. No woman would have been forced into the military. No woman would have been bullied for not being manly enough. No woman would have been condemned for not earning enough for the family. No woman would have been criticized by their dating or relationship partners for failing to be manly or expected to handle discipline or money management over the partner. Indeed, no WOMAN would have been forced to work AT ALL if they were raising babies or children, as I was forced to do via financial aid in college raising my older daughter in homeschooling years and youngest daughter from birth to age 3 and beyond. In my whole life, I have only had a few months that I was not earning money, and I was condemned for that lack, forcing me to spend LESS time with the kids and household...which in turn made me seen as a failure at being a woman at home AND a failure at being a worker.
The point is this....no one will EVER give you permission to be yourself, and they are not going to praise you for doing it, unless it is in their best interest as well. The ONLY thing you can do is just....DO IT. BE you. Fuck them. Do it for you, and don't expect applause or acceptance. That is the ONLY way it will ever get done.