This list is for anyone who is on or suspects that they could be on the LGBT+ spectrum. I know at least for myself, my transition and self-acceptance was not the smoothest because I was figuring everything out on my own. So I wrote this on the off chance that someone who is like I was would see it and not have to go through the same things I did.

1. Take as much time as you need

Yes, we hear stories about people who just know exactly who they are supposed to be from a very young age and yes, that can be a bit discouraging. It’s hard not to be a little bit upset that toddlers and preteens already know something so important about themselves while it might have taken you until high school or college or even beyond that to start questioning. But that is fine. Take time to discover and rediscover yourself time and time again until you finally stumble upon something that feels right. It might take you until you’re eighteen or it might take you until you’re forty-five but you are just as valid either way.

2. You are valid

It doesn’t matter what you identify as. You can be non-binary, lesbian, queer, aromantic, anything at all. Go with whatever feels right and what you feel you are on the inside. It doesn’t matter if your identity is shared by half of the world or just 5 others, stay true to yourself.

3. Your identity doesn’t have to be set in stone

Identity is fluid. You can live your life a certain way for many years and then wake up one morning and just feel different. Or you can feel one way for a couple of hours and then change your mind the next. Once you choose a label, you are not stuck with it forever. If it fits during the time you need it, then use it but if you feel yourself start to change go with something else. It doesn’t matter how many times you change your identity, your sexuality, the way you present, just stay true to who you are inside.

4. Present however you want to

Make sure you are comfortable in your own skin. You want to wear a dress, have short hair, and not shave your legs? Do it. You want to wear a suit with a full face of makeup and high heels? Do it. There is no right or wrong way to present yourself to the world.

5. ‘Normal’ doesn't exist

Just because your identity is a minority doesn’t make it any less important. ‘Normal’ is just a word and it applies to no one. Every single person has flaws, quirks, things that make them different. And it’s easy to just accept that something that is widely done is the ‘normal’ that you should strive for but you don’t have to strive to be anything other than yourself. You are perfect just the way you are.

6. Love yourself

Be your number one fan. No one will ever know or understand you better than you do. So support yourself and stand up for yourself because you know what's going on. You will always be loved. There will be people who have loved you your entire life that will keep on doing so without a hitch, and there will be some people that you lose, but they can be replaced. Just love yourself first and others will follow, don’t worry about it.

7. It gets easier

Life will never be perfect. There's nothing you can do to fix that. There will be some days that are hard and some days that are even harder- it’s a part of living. But the longer you spend presenting the way you want to, or using your preferred pronouns, or loving who you want to love will make accepting yourself so much easier. When you’re first starting out, you might be conflicted but those feelings do start to fade when you start discovering new parts of yourself.

8. Stay safe

Accept that not everyone will be understanding. There will always be people who think that your identity doesn’t exist, or goes against their religion, or that it is just a phase. And stand up for yourself and people like you when you can but remember to protect yourself. Remember that we still live in a world where we are being killed for loving who we want to love and being who we want to be. It is important to be you and to feel comfortable in your skin but if you are in an environment where it is hard or even impossible to do those things then maybe you should hold off for a little bit until you find a safe place. This is a piece of advice that I wish I didn’t have to include but sadly this is the reality we live in.

Since I don’t want to end on that dark note here are some last words that I want to leave you with:

You are not making this up. You are not doing this for attention. You are beautiful. You are so so strong. Keep fighting the good fight and never give up because the world needs your voice, it needs every single one all of us.