I'm in My 20s, But I Only Recently Came to Terms with My Sexuality/Gender Identity and That's OK

For many years, I pushed my attraction to women deep down. I did it all. I forced myself to pretend to enjoy making out with guys at frat parties, I had countless numbers of meaningless relationships in middle and high school, and I purposely lied on “Are you gay?” Buzzfeed quizzes in a desperate attempt to convince myself that I could like guys. But through all of that, I knew I was lying to myself and I was miserable because of it.

 

I can vividly remember the first time I came out to anyone as being a lesbian. Around halfway through the spring semester of my freshman year of college, I walked into the shared bathroom of my suite.  I had previously seen myself as being bisexual, but at that moment I knew that label no longer fit me.  I looked at myself directly in the mirror and said “I’m gay” before breaking down into tears. This was the first time I had ever said that out loud to myself and I knew that my life would never be the same. A few moments later my suitemate walked in and asked if I was okay. I told them that I was gay and luckily for me, they were immediately accepting. 

 

I was then put into a weird position where I had to recome out to some people when I hadn’t come out to others at all. It wasn’t until a year after I came out to myself that I came out to my parents. I go to college in New York while the rest of my family is in Texas. I tried more times than I can count to find the courage to come out to them in person, but I was too afraid of what would happen. However, one night I was tired of hiding such a big part of myself from them, so I called them. I came out to them over the phone and kind of out of the blue, which wasn’t the ideal scenario. I still have some mixed feelings about how that phone call went, but we’ve come a long way in the time since then. There are still members of my family that don’t know, and that’s because a part of me is still scared that I’ll lose the people in my life becuase of who I love. 

Love is Love Scrabble Letters. Photo by Shamia Casiano from Pexels

I thought I had myself fully figured out, but then during the winter break between the fall and spring semesters of my junior year, I started questioning my gender identity. I asked a few of my close friends to start using she/they pronouns for me and felt a euphoric sense that can probably only be understood by those who have felt it. It may seem like such a small change, but it made a world of difference to me. I still don’t have this completely figured out. Pronouns and gender identity don’t always go hand in hand, and I’m struggling to figure out how I identify gender-wise. I’ve always considered myself a woman, but I don’t know if this is how I really feel or if this is just what I’ve always been made to believe about myself.

My Pronouns Are Whiteboard Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Unsplash

It’s kind of hard to put how it feels to know that you’ll always be an outlier into words. Most of the reason why I buried these parts of myself inside for so long is because I didn’t want to be different. I thought that being straight and using the pronouns you were assigned at birth was “normal” and anything other than that was wrong. But this isn’t the truth at all. Since coming to terms with my sexuality, I’ve realized that there is no right or wrong in terms of identities. They’re unique to every person and I think that’s amazing. 

 

It’s so incredibly hard to not feel like yourself or to have no idea who you truly are. I sometimes envy the people who have always had it figured out. I also sometimes mourn the years that I spent not being my authentic self. I spent so many years hiding such an important part of myself that I had no idea who I was. I was putting on an act for everyone for so long that I almost started to believe it myself.

Sign that reads “you are worthy of love” Photo by Tim Mossholder from Pexels

I know that regardless of the struggles I’ve dealt with and those that may come with it, I wouldn’t want to be anyone else. I’ve come a long way in my never-ending journey to accepting and loving every aspect of myself, and I still have a long way to go. Something that I have to remind myself of is that there isn’t a timetable for figuring out sexuality or gender identity. There’s no deadline that I have to meet. I have come to terms with the fact that I’ll figure it all out when I do, and there’s no point in rushing it. Furthermore, I know that I’m lucky enough to have incredible people who will accept me, whoever that turns out to be.