Change is constant. The frightening reality of this leads to several conclusions you may never see coming. But change is constant: everyone goes through it physically and mentally while living out their teenage years, all of us at the same time, together.
But what if your change was something you never expected.
What if you started to have feelings for a gender identity you never expected to have feelings for? You may find yourself hurled into an arena filled with confusion, and you don’t know if what you're feeling is okay or not. Dysphoria may even set in while going through this new experience.
But you will always come out on the other side. Whatever you feel is always valid.
When I was 15, alone in a foreign country for a competition, developing feelings for another girl was the last thing I had ever expected. I’ve been sheltered for most of my life, not knowing a lot about the world due to my parents’ rules, so at that point in my life, I barely knew anything about the LGBT+ community. I never thought I would be a part of it.
I didn’t want to accept my new feelings. I kept telling myself that it was wrong, that I was wrong, and that if it were true, my family would never accept me. At that point in my life, nobody I knew identified as part of the LGBT+ community, so I was terrified of being different. This fear sat in my stomach like a rock. Self-hate crept in along with internalized homophobia, which lasted for months.
As one year changed to another, I slowly began to feel differently. It took a great deal of time, but I eventually coaxed myself to embrace the truth. I finally felt proud. Proud of being different, proud of not being scared anymore. I just kept telling myself, ‘you are who you are.’
I’ve come to know the hard way that you can’t lie to yourself when it comes to love. No matter where you live, what language you speak, your ethnicity, or even your favorite color, who you love is who you love. Don’t run from it, no matter how daunting it is. Whoever reads this, I’ll be cheering you on. :)
If you are questioning your identity, one of the most important things to do is to let yourself think. I had to learn this the hard way. Suppressing emotions only makes them harder to deal with later on. Don’t suppress feelings for a particular person just because they weren’t the one you were expecting. Allow yourself to understand whom you like and then decide what your next step will be. Doing the opposite closes a door that could’ve shown you a beautiful, undiscovered part of yourself. Focus on yourself to try to figure out what you really want. If speaking aloud or talking to someone is your game, try to discuss it with a friend or family member that you are comfortable with. Even chatting online anonymously to a stranger can help. But if doing so, be cautious as to what you say. Any personal details given out can be used to cause you harm. It’s also safer to contact widely used platforms. Below is a link to ‘The Trevor Project’, offering a 24/7 helpline. I hope this helps! ❤
The Trevor Project — Saving Young LGBTQ Lives
Secondly, something that is overstated quite often is finding a label. When figuring out and accepting your identity, you don’t have to immediately figure out a label. I thought I needed to find a name and hold it up to truly accept myself. But I don’t think it’s necessary anymore. Labels are meant to help others understand, including yourself, who you are. It should be a tool to aid acceptance. It’s not something to force yourself into. It’s natural to not know where to place yourself at first. If you are just figuring out about this amazing side, let yourself explore and experiment until you are comfortable with how you feel and are ready to adopt a label.
The bottom line is to simply give yourself time. This might seem like waiting it out, and to be honest, it may be. But as I have mentioned, this only works if you attempt to understand yourself. Discomfort won’t magically disappear, but if you try, you’ll start to feel more relaxed in your shoes. For me, it took me almost a year to understand and to start to come out of my shell, and in the end, I could not be more grateful that I was able to. Even though I haven’t completely accepted myself yet, the road ahead doesn’t seem so rough anymore.
Embrace love, because it's the sweetest thing when you let it live as it is.