Jane Eyre and New Year's Resolutions

Over this Christmas break, I finally had a chance to read a book that has been on my list for years: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. In all honesty, it was one of the most well-written books that I have ever read, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for something good to read. Besides being a good read, this book also features a strong female protagonist, Jane Eyre. Since childhood, Jane refused to be silenced. She would not allow herself to be walked all over and continued to be outspoken. She made her opinions loud and clear, despite the fact that it wasn’t “lady-like” of her to do so. While Jane did not always make the best decisions, she owned up to all of them. She challenged the norm of what a woman should be.

After reading and thinking about New Year’s resolutions, I’ve decided that I want to be more like Jane Eyre. My goal for 2019 is to challenge the norms of womanhood. But how?

I will not be silent anymore. I feel that I have been silent, or not loud enough, about the things that matter to me.

While most of the people in my life know that I am a lesbian, I tend to keep it under wraps until someone asks me about it. There is still a part of me that is ashamed of who I am. There is still part of me that is scared to let people know this part of me.

When I first realized that I like girls, I was ashamed. I was raised in the United Methodist Church. I was taught growing up that being gay is a sin. People like me were not accepted. God hated me. I was going to hell. I hated myself for this part of me that I could not change no matter how hard I tried. I let this go on for about two years until I finally had enough.

I came out to my mother the summer after my freshman year of high school. We were in the car for a three hour drive. It was just me and my mom, and I was terrified. When we neared the end of the car ride, I blurted it out. I told my mother that I am gay. The first things she said was, “I know.” Most people that I spent time around knew. For a split second, I was hopeful, but then came the words, “Well, you know what the Bible says.” I was crushed. While I knew that my mother truly did love me, I also knew that, at the time, she did not accept me for who I was. Luckily, things on that front have improved immensely, but it took a while. After I came out to my mother, I told her not to tell my father or anyone else. I would feel guilty if anyone found out before I could tell them. My mother did not tell anybody. We did not discuss it for a few years.

For the next few years, I was out at school. All of my friends knew, and I’m assuming that my teachers knew. It was a different story at home, though. My mom knew. My sister knew. My father and the rest of my family did not.

I honestly did not plan on telling my father that I am gay until I got engaged. This plan didn’t hold up as I thought it would. One evening, I was watching television with my father. There was a scene that depicted two men being intimate with each other. His only comment was, “They shouldn’t show that on TV. It’s not right.” At this point in my life, I was already extremely fragile. It was my junior year of high school and I was dealing with major anxiety and depression disorders. That night, I went to my room, had a panic attack, and wrote a letter to my father. This was probably the scariest thing that I’ve ever experienced. I handed him the letter. He read it. Then he hugged me and said, “It’s okay. I’m not going to kick you out or anything.” It was the most acceptance from family that I had received.

Then, early in my senior year, I made a National Coming Out Day post on Instagram. My grandmother happened to see this post. I’m not going to go into all of the details because of privacy reasons, but she was not at all accepting. To this day, she still holds onto the hope that someday I will fall in love with a nice boy, no matter how many times I tell her that it will never happen.

I have been out to most people in my life for about two years now, but there’s always the occasional family member or friend that doesn’t know that I am a lesbian. This is mostly because, like I said earlier, there is still a part of me that is ashamed of who I am. I don’t want to be ashamed anymore.

In 2019, I want to be more like Jane Eyre. I don’t want to be traditional, I don’t want to be quiet, I don’t want to be swept under the rug, and I don’t want to comply with injustice. I want to be loud, I want to be problematic to those who have created injustice, and I want to be proud of who  I am. I want to challenge the traditional roles of womanhood. I want to be more like Jane Eyre. And I don’t want to hide any longer.