I have a plan. It’s unique to me and of my own design. Actually, I have a system of plans. I made a Pre-Release Plan, Release Plan, and a 5 Year Goal Plan just so I understand what I’m going to do with myself in and, ultimately, out of prison. My plans assuage my anxiety that when I get out I’ll be met with mass resistance and hatred.

In the recent months I have had 2 people I worked with very closely with get out of prison. One created a 5 Year Goal Plan under my guidance and the other gave up on it (it is challenging because it does force you to envision and imagine your own success, see end of article for how to get one done for yourself). The one who gave up on it struggling to find a job and their way. The one who spent the time struggling through the plan is not just doing well, they are setting a very high standard for post-release success. This tells me a lot about the system I developed as well as what kind of mentality I’m going to need for success.

I only have 2 examples of highly successful people (in my eyes) that have released from prison and they both have several things in common. One, they utilized external resources and asked for help. Two, they spent countless hours with meticulous planning and documented every step they will take to accomplish their way. Three, when they got out they did not waste time, they got out thinking they did not need “to adjust to this new world” and instead chose to optimistically engage as if they belonged there already. Four, they are fiercely independent minded. I have these qualities and I know it. By all rights I am prepared. So why the anxiety?

Because, what if I fail?

There, I said it. I’m scared of failing. I feel like there is a maniacal clown with a cricket bat pacing outside the gates of this place waiting to crack me across the face as soon as I open the door to freedom. Of course I say this metaphorically, the clown being societies nonacceptance of me either as a trans woman, someone who’s committed a sex offense, or my life time of poverty and all the mannerisms that go along with it, or maybe all of the above.

While the clown imagery may be a bit dramatic I have to face those realities in here. I’m viewing the entire world through the lens of prison and its damaging psychological impacts. In my eyes I am getting out into a world where hugs are illegal, sunglasses represent danger and hostilities, military dressed people are dangerous and represent my boundary, I could go on and on. While I understand logically those things are not true my body is tensing automatically in response and I am left dealing with it. Bracing for impact both physically and emotionally. But I do have one confidence. Remember those successful people I was talking about? They both dreamt big, were afraid to fail and what that would mean for them, and they both got out out and had to adjust their entire plan. But we planned for that. Instead of learning to control our future and the path to get there, we learned strategy.

That’s my secret though. That’s what they didn’t know, I wasn’t teaching them to meticulously plan their future, I was teaching them to strategjze so that as new obstacles and information came they could react in a way that kept them on the path forward without the fear of “now what?”.

I got that. Am I nervous? Yes. Am I afraid of failing and looking foolish? Yes. Is that gonna stop me? No. I’m still going to get out with my second chance and send proverbial ripples throughout this world that will impact others in positive ways.

A note to the Universe: here I come to claim my spot and thanks for saving it.

To learn how to create your own 5 Year Goal Plan, write me and we can begin to plan your own strategic future. Are you up to the challenge?

With Love
Ruth Utnage
(For interviews or media inquiries please contact me directly!)

Ruth Utnage fka jeff 823469 C-510-2
PO Box 888
Monroe, WA. 98272

or via Jpay email service (you have to use my birth name, but, please do not call me by it, my new legal name is Ruth)

Jeff Utnage