Since my freshman year of high school, I have gone through many different struggles and challenges. These challenges range from coming to terms with my sexuality to trying to maintain decent grades, an average social life, and keeping up with my physical and mental health.
While there have been many things that have set me back, I find it important to note that I have also had some amazing things that have pushed me forward. I have come to terms with my sexuality and came out to the world, I have written and published two books (something I have always dreamed of doing), written and created my first original short film, and I have influenced people and made a positive impact on them.
My life is not a crapshoot, but it is also in no way extraordinary. That being said, I have learned that living an extraordinary life all comes down to me. It is almost the end of 2017, and in this time, I have had time to reflect on a lot of things, specifically the choices I make and the person I am.
When I take this time to reflect, I like to play a game I made up not too long ago. The rules of the game are simple. You pick a year in the past, mine being my freshman year of high school, and then you come up with a list of things that have happened from then until now. I called this game Trials and Triumphs.
The reason I call it this is that I make two separate lists, one list is all the trials I have gone through from then until now, and the other is all the triumphs I have faced. Once I have finished making both lists, I like to take a minute to read both, then really take the time to reflect on the things that have changed, and the things that need to change. Looking at my list, a lot of my triumphs are things I have just achieved/started doing now. One of the most important things on my list was coming to terms with my sexuality.
I came out on April 26th, 2015, but the road to acceptance was still very far away. Many people ask me about what it was like to come out and what was going through my head, but sadly I have not been able to fully address that question.
To answer it in full, it was terrifying. I remember my hands being shaky as I uploaded the video, feeling like I was on a sugar rush. I remember the fear of telling my family and seeing their reactions. I remember going to school that next day, seeing all the staring faces and hearing the taunting whispers. Most of all, I remember lying still. Anyone can go and watch my coming out video and they will see a lie. I continued to lie about my sexuality.
I thought if I told everyone I was bisexual it would make everything easier. For some reason, I thought it would make things easier if people thought there was at least some hope that I could still end up with a girl.
I was wrong, and I not only needed to apologize to myself, but to the LGBTQ+ community and any other person who has struggled with accepting themselves.
My blind ignorance made it seem like I thought people who were bisexual had it easier, but that is far from true. Every single person in the LGBTQ+ community goes through struggles, and not one group is more important than the other. We are a community because we all know what it is liked to being treated like an outsider, and this backward belief that being bisexual is easier than being gay is wrong. We are supposed to be united as one to make a real difference in the world and to show that being different is OK; that different is the new normal.
I did not fully come out as gay until I had my first relationship with a boy. This is also something I do not talk about. Romantically, I was way behind most people my age. I had not technically had my first kiss or even came anywhere remotely close to my first love. Because I was so behind, I became obsessed. I felt like I had something to prove, but who I was trying to prove something to, I had no idea.
I desperately tried to find someone to be with, because I thought that was the only way to be happy with myself. When I finally found someone, I felt happiness like I would never have thought existed, but it wasn’t real happiness. It was not the happiness a person should have.
Not only was it not real happiness, I was being completely unfair to myself and the person I was with, although I did not realize how unfair I was being. Not long after that relationship ended, I jumped into another, thinking it was the key to my happiness. I, however; was wrong once again. It isn’t until just now, almost two years later, that I am finally by myself and learning the importance of it. I have learned that I do not need a relationship to make me happy. I learned that you cannot rely solely on one person to be the source of your happiness, because that is unfair to both parties.
I also learned, from being in relationships and seeing them, that you should never be the settler. You should never feel like you have to settle for a person because you are afraid you are not good enough and no one else will love you. I needed to learn that I am perfectly capable of receiving love, but will not be ready until I learn to love myself.
Almost all the trials I have gone through in my life have been because of the same reason. They have occurred because I have been unhappy with myself for a very long time. I have always had a very low self-esteem, been fearful of acceptance, and put others in front of myself. I am just now learning the importance of self-love. I can’t expect anyone to accept me if I cannot accept myself.
I am not going to be happy in a relationship if I am constantly afraid that the person is too good for me. I am not going to be happy if I am always putting everyone’s needs in front of my own. Most of all, I am not going to be happy if I don’t search for it and make positive changes in my life.
The past couple months, I have started eating healthier and exercising so I can be happy with how I look. I have started putting myself first and found a group of people I know will not take advantage of my kindness and willingness to go above and beyond for them. I have learned to be happy with myself and not to actively pursue a relationship because I need one to be happy, but instead, let it come to me. I have learned not to close myself off from people because I have been hurt and had bad experiences in the past.
I have continued to use my love and passion for writing to inspire others. I have learned the importance of close family bonds. I have learned that asking for help when you need it is not a sign of weakness. I have learned the importance of progressing academically and building a successful career. I have learned many things, but the most important being that you don’t have to be an extraordinary person to live an extraordinary life.