From Running Away To Finding Myself

I am a lesbian. I have known this for quite a while, but I’ve been trying so hard to be straight for so long, and I never thought I would actually be able to utter these words out loud. I guess I thought of it much like my science courses in college. Chemistry never came naturally to me, but if I studied hard enough I could get an A. Similarly, if I went out enough with my friends looking for boys, dated enough guys, and had the right amount of celebrity male crushes, I could also achieve an A in ‘being straight.’ Turns out, it doesn’t matter how hard you try—you can’t be someone you’re not.

Ten months ago I set out on an adventure of sorts—I moved from my home state of Massachusetts to Oklahoma. I thought that moving 1,700 miles away would stop all of this—stop these thoughts and feelings and this ridiculous realization that I might be definitely was a lesbian. When a month went by and I couldn’t get this “lesbian idea” out of my mind, I convinced myself it was okay—I could be a lesbian in Oklahoma {ironic, I know- Massachusetts legalized gay marriage eleven years ago.} No one knew me in Oklahoma. It was safe to be whoever I wanted to be.

The thing is, you can’t just become a lesbian like you may be able to become a vegan or a yogi or a better chef. There is no manual on “how to become a lesbian.” Believe me, if there were I probably would have read it three times by now. During the process of coming out I Google searched “you know you’re a lesbian when…” and “how do you know you’re gay” and “what to do when you figure out you’re gay.” Almost all the articles said the same thing: There is no step by step guide to know you’re a lesbian, but if you are googling this—you probably are. Before I came out to anyone I watched inspirational speech after inspirational speech, including but not limited to every Human Rights Campaign speech and GLAAD awards speech I could find. I watched lesbian YouTube stations and coming out videos and advice on how to tell your family and friends. In hindsight I think I was trying to find someone with my same, exact story, but the more I researched the more I realized that although people have similar stories, everyone’s story is unique and that is what makes coming out truly beautiful.

That’s not to say that coming out isn’t difficult. It was definitely the hardest thing I have ever done. I first came out to myself eight months ago in a journal entry when I wrote: “I think I am a lesbian, but who the fuck cares.” Well, apparently I wanted people to care because four months later I found myself coming out to one of my friends. It wasn’t as hard as I thought, and I continued to come out to my family, some more friends, and even work colleagues. That was round one. As the conversations became exhausting and draining and started to feel unnecessary {straight people don’t have to call all their friends and relatives describing their sexuality}, I decided this article would be round two.

It is definitely liberating to finally own something that you have tried to repress and ignore for 24 years. Additionally, my entire life started to make sense—from small female crushes to unhealthy relationships to significant moments of unhappiness in my relationships with boys. As Oprah, one of my favorite people, says, I had an “aha” moment. In this moment I suddenly understood why I’d been so unhappy all these years. It was not that I didn’t want to be with someone or get married or have children or ‘settle down,’ I just didn’t want to do it with a guy. I wasn’t anxious if my parents asked me about my dating life because I didn’t want to talk about it or disappoint them but because I didn’t want us to be talking about a guy. When I subtracted the guy from the equation and added a girl, the anxiety went away and everything made sense. This simple math made me happy, excited, and determined to not simply exist, but to finally live my life.

Although I am the same blonde haired, blue-eyed girl who loves sparkly headbands and Free People clothing, I feel like an entirely new and refreshed person. When I first moved to Oklahoma 10 months ago, I was confused and angry and frustrated and in complete denial about all my thoughts and feelings towards girls. I was genuinely trying to escape from my mind by physically moving 1,700 miles away. Now, 10 months later I am writing this article. I am ready to own my life and my journey and committed to finding true happiness, not the happiness that society tells me I should have.

I mean it’s still a process. Because most people would never think I was a lesbian just by looking at me, it is still difficult and uncomfortable to correct people when they ask if I have a boyfriend—but I know one day I’ll get there. That’s the thing—coming out was the hardest part. Now I can build and live my own story, my true story, the story I want—a story full of self-discovery and self-acceptance and self-love. Each and every one of us has our own story: stories filled with happiness and sadness and everything in between. I guess the greatest thing I have learned through coming out is that as long as I am being true to myself, everything else will fall into place. Until then, I will enjoy the ride and be thankful that I no longer have to move across the country to be who I want to be and love who I want to love. I am now ready to do that anywhere. TC mark

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