I’m not afraid to say that less than a year ago I was ready to commit
myself to a life of silence, suppressed emotion and social conformity
At the time, there was no doubt in my mind that it was the right thing to do. In fact, upon recollection, the certainty of my mindset during that time actually scares me. I convinced myself that a certain life would be the right life for me. It was no-one’s fault but my own that I planted a seed of self-doubt and encouraged the growth of a mentality not secure for myself, or for the life made for me. There was nothing flourishing about my mindset. There was nothing blooming. Sure, there was growth and height, but not the right kind.
My life contradicted everything I told others, and everything I stood for in my day-to-day life.
I found it my responsibility to rethink my priorities… I knew no-one else was going to do it for me.
I’m not sure it is possible to pinpoint what had changed in those months, but I can say that a collection of experiences had led me to coming out.
Coming out not just as gay, but as me.
In my naivety, I dreamt that coming out to my loved ones would see the full weight of the world lifted from my shoulders. I dreamt my problems would dissipate into nothing, as if nothing had changed… and as if my life would go back to “normal”
whatever that is
and OBVIOUSLY, that did not happen.
I’m not saying it went badly, because it was a lot better than I had expected.
You hear about those well-planned coming out stories. The script. The rehearsal. The “let’s sit down and talk about this” vibe.
And I completely agree with the planning aspect, because despite what we want to believe, people do have negative experiences. They tell you to prepare yourself. Make sure you have financial security. Make sure you are ready for whatever response you are met with.
But my story was far from that; I hadn’t prepared for my glorifying coming out moment AT ALL. I hadn’t envisioned my story. I hadn’t planned, nor thought about their reactions. I didn’t know that Saturday would be my day, I just SAID IT. I LITERALLY BLURTED OUT THOSE TWO WORDS.
And I was met with silence,
and a sense of calm
and slight dread
and then relief again.
I cannot say I didn’t feel better. I felt relief. I felt happy. I felt content. I could breathe. I could be me and not be ashamed.
I no longer had to hide under this guise of being a woman everyone wanted me to be, falsely excited for a life I have never wanted, or never dreamt of having. I could be me.
And I became me.
But with all that came a need for personal acceptance. Coming out is not always necessarily about those on the receiving end. I had to deal with the fact that my identity was exposed. Something so precious, and I protected so dearly was susceptible to judgement, even if it was by the people who loved me unconditionally. I had to learn to deal with undertones of disappointment and worry, or what I perceived to be these emotions.
Everything I had suppressed for so long became a reality and I was no longer in control.
and I guess that was the hardest part.
I had put the bait out, and I awaited any kind of reaction.
I learnt that coming out is not a one time thing, and I’m sure as heck there’s not one way to do it. But I have learnt the importance of being prepared. Be prepared to be met with questions – read up on what it would be like if someone came out to you.
- Understand the receipt of such news.
- Understand the questions they may have and be open to them. Answer them as well as you can.
- Understand their emotions. In most cases, this is just as difficult for them as it is for you.
- Understand (potentially) the pain someone would feel, not knowing this news sooner, or feeling that the person they thought they knew has been battling with a part of their identity for so long.
Of course, as hard as it is, think of the practical issues too – rejection, being asked to leave home, having the support of others…Seek refuge around those who understand. Be kind to yourself. It’s not easy.
And finally, I do firmly believe that coming out is not always the path for everyone, and this should be respected. Whilst coming out is undoubtedly a HUGE step forward, it is not necessarily a requirement for one to live a life of fulfilment. A journey toward self-acceptance and self-love can still be practised without stating one’s identity – a choice which should be afforded to all.
The most important thing I’ve learnt is that only you know when you’re ready, don’t let anyone make that decision for you.