Every day you must choose to be a better person, without end. There will be setbacks, lessons learned, and lots of self-reflection leading to growth. Becoming a better person is a process with no set destination and no point of completion.
People are like mosaics. They are a whole picture comprised of fractured but consistent traits. Oftentimes these abundances of small details are reflections of other people that have shaped their life.
Such reflections of others can be through imitation, or through mindful rejection. For instance, you might meet someone who keeps their chin up and smiles all the time – something you admire and pick up for yourself.
Conversely you may notice someone who says little of consequence amidst too much inane chatter. It may be better to avoid such behaviour within yourself, to speak only when you have something to say.
Observation like this is the first of a couple ways of becoming. Paired with self-reflection, you can define your values and refine your self. This introspection is crucial to becoming.
Those of us who are queer or deviant or non-traditional must often introspect at an early age. We look to our family and friends and find that something just doesn't quite fit right. We're different from them somehow. So we wonder and think on it. This starts us down the path of becoming.
The odds are stacked that most of us deviants had to confront expectations that we'd grow up to get married in a straight & monogamous relationship, have kids, and be vanilla. In my case I rejected these from an early age, but I had no way of knowing what I would end up replacing those expectations with.
Then comes the most important feature of becoming: other people. You need other people to sharpen you like iron needs iron to sharpen it. The world has everything to offer you, and other people are how you learn what's possible. Observing people, their interactions, their decisions, their consequences. Dealing with people yourself, listening and learning from them. Finding a place of belonging, or finding that you definitely don't want to be with a group of people.
A common youthful story for us queers and deviants is that we are confused and lost until we find other people like us. Then we start to understand ourselves, because we have others to learn from and contextualise us.
For budding kinksters, discovering the kink community may also alleviate society's pressures. We're often conflicted about our natures early on, particularly those who are sadistic.
"Hurting people is immoral," society says, "good people wouldn't do that." It leads sadists to feel monstrous for their desires.
The kink community soothes these conflicted feelings with models such as Safe, Sane, Consensual and Risk Aware Consensual Kink. We see others being happy and healthy with similar desires. Though for sadists, it may still take time to overcome that mental barrier and relax enough to give someone the gift of sensations like pain. Causing pain is not the same as causing harm, after all.
Observation at some point gives way to the next means of becoming: trial and error. You must embrace the growth zone that lies just beyond your comfort zone, and embrace all the discomfort that comes with it.
You may try a new look to fit in with a group, you might share your empathy with a new friend, you might smile at strangers more often. What matters is that you allow yourself to embrace new experiences, which allow you to reflect on them in turn.
Take the good experiences and tuck them away into your heart – make them an integral part of your core identity. Discard what disgusts you. Resolve to not repeat mistakes you've made.
With time you will refine your identity from coarse and broad down to something granular. Instead of chopping away whole swathes of identity, you eventually settle into yourself and file down the details.
Of course sea changes of identity may still occur even later in life. There are periods when it is normal to go through great changes, such as your teenage years, new relationships, parenthood, a medical diagnosis, or midlife crises.
Sometimes these shocks may feel like a step backwards, such as with tragedies, job loss, and other negative situations. Yet there is no ultimate measurement that defines who you are. As long as you continue the process of becoming, you will grow better with time.
So choose and choose again to be better than you were before.