I am a planner, a researcher, and a ball of anxiety. So, when I decided it was time to “come out” I spent hours wondering how I would feel and act once I was “out.” I wanted to know if the pain, struggle, and tears would be worth it in the end. I took my anxious self to the dark depths of the interwebs in search of advice, answers, and reassurance. But, what I found did not reassure me.
My search results gifted me with sentimental and uplifting videos showing scared young people “coming out” to their parents and celebrities braving the press to shed light on their sexuality. I read columns and articles that provided me with dialogue and suggestions on how to tell my loved ones about my “gayness” or on how to tell my straight friend that I like them. Yet, I could not find a single article telling me how I would feel to be out of the “closet.” So, I, pursuing the answer to my own question, entered my journey of coming out with both terror and determination in my heart because they never told me.
1. There are fewer people who are braver than you are in this moment. You are walking a journey that is not for the faint of heart. It takes so much courage to lay the most private parts of your heart and soul out for the world to see. Being true to one’s self is one of the grandest things someone can accomplishment in life. You deserve the biggest “pat” on the back…or a massive hug. Go you!
2. You will cry. Before, during, and after. You will shed tears of fear, relief, and joy. (I recommend purchasing tissues and chocolate ahead of time.)
3. You will feel A LOT (hence, the tears). Yes, there will be “feels” everywhere, all the time. There will be moments when you cannot process the amount of emotions that are raging throughout your body. You may wish that they would all leave you, but they cannot. You mustn’t force them away. Embrace every moment of this journey: each emotion needs to be felt and each step needs to be experienced. You have waited far too long for this to not cherish them. (Keep in mind that your straight peers may not be able to fully understand all that is going on in your head, refer to #6 for advice.)
4. You will feel “at home” with yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally. Coming out is like a whole new religion, one that embraces and cherishes every minute detail of your life.
5. The love will overshadow the hate. Although you might face some resistance and fear from others, the love will overpower the hate. What stays with you years after you “come out” are the kind words, long hugs, and respectful actions of your family and peers. The community that will jump up to embrace the real you will shock you.
6. Labels can be a good thing. Speaking of community (above), you will now have one. With a label, gay/lesbian/bisexual/etc., comes a community. You will find yourself embraced by a group of individuals who have similar experiences and feelings. They will stick by your side like a tribe. And, you will never be alone, no matter where you go in life.
7. You will “like,” if not love, yourself more than you could ever imagine. Pride. There is no end to pride that you will feel for yourself, and this is coming from someone who struggled with low self-esteem. Not only will you be proud of yourself, but you will also respect yourself more because you and only you know what it took for you to reach this moment. You will begin to identify the strength and power that resides within yourself. You are a warrior, and you will begin to own it.
8. You will be free. Free. This is a word, an idea, a notion that will echo through your brain more times than you can imagine. But, it is more than a thought. You will feel it. You feel what freedom is like. And, oh my… it is f*cking beautiful.
They never told me that it would be this amazing, that I would feel this amazing, or that my life could be this amazing. So, friends, good luck and, remember, it is going to be amazing. I told you.