who I am is no longer in conflict with the person I present to the world
I knew top surgery was right for me because I was constantly distracted and overwhelmed by my envy for a flat chest-- especially when in the company of cisgender and postop transguys. I stopped leaving the house without a binder and wore my binder in the house the majority of the time. I wasn't able to be present or happy in my mind/body amidst the physical discomfort from the binder- which simultaneously served as an expression of my authentic gender and an ongoing reminder of my internal pain and gender dysphoria. I had really negative feelings about myself and chest, and became extremely socially withdrawn as a result.
Looking back, I can definitely identify moments in time when I had gut instincts that top surgery was the right choice for me. Though I don't have any regrets about my journey, I do really wish I took the time to listen and explore where those instinctual feelings were coming from when they first surfaced.
Time was also a crucial element for me. Each person comes to decisions on their own terms and in their own time. There is no widely applied standard for the amount of time that needs to go by to be "sure" about taking a step such as top surgery. Do what feels right for you.
I thought about top surgery for 5 years before I made my first call to a surgeon. Gender dysphoria and mental health issues intensified during those 5 years. These struggles also strangely helped me to feel more confident in my decision to align my gender identity and body. As soon as I felt physically and emotionally healthy, I began to pursue top surgery. Although it took many years, I finally acted on those gut instincts. My life drastically changed for the better as a result