I’m a female, and I’ve known I’ve been attracted to girls since I was in seventh grade, so about seven/eight years ago. But I’ve been attracted to boys since I could remember: chasing each other on the playgrounds, getting too nervous to talk to a cute one, arguing with friends over which boys in class were cuter, and which thought we were cute, etc. I’d never known there was such thing as being attracted to the same sex, that is until I realized I was beginning to feel such an attraction.

My first crush on a girl was in seventh grade on one of the “popular” girls in my middle school. I remember fantasizing about things with her that I had never thought about with even boys before. I started to get nervous to talk to her, yet always I wanted to be around her and catch a glimpse when I could. TMI, but the first time I fantasized about sex, boy or girl, was with a girl and with her, and I was only in seventh grade. I remember even trying to kiss a best friend of mine at the time, just to see how it felt, even though I didn’t have a crush on her. I just wanted to know if I really was attracted to girls, especially when they started running through my mind constantly, in ways that I felt they shouldn’t be.

The remainder of that year, and through most of the following year, I struggled with my sexual orientation identity, but slowly I started to forget about it because I was trying to force myself to. It was starting to confuse me and frustrate me, trying to decide if I was gay or straight because I felt I had to be one or the other. And at such a young age, I honestly wasn’t aware of the terms “gay” and “straight," so I had no idea what I was feeling and that it was normal for some people. I was too scared to tell friends and family about my struggle with my sexual orientation because I felt it would be viewed wrongly and negatively and affect closeness in those relationships. So I held it in, pushed it off, and thought I was past those times…until junior year of high school hit.

My junior year, I had to come to terms with the fact I was strongly attracted to girls, and I came out to my parents as bisexual. I remember writing the note, leaving it on their bed, and promptly leaving the house to go to another friend’s house, where I waited in tears for my parents’ reply. They texted not long after that that they got the note and that they still loved me, and I cried in relief. Upon arriving home a few hours later though, my father wouldn’t speak to me the rest of the day (and part of the next), and my mother suggested therapy. (But don’t worry, they’re accepting of it now, especially my mom. They’re okay when I talk about girls in such ways, and they’ve come to terms that I have an attraction to the same sex as myself. I will admit I think a big reason they’re more accepting of it now is because they realized I am still attracted to guys as well.)

Their reactions, so contradictory to their text response, angered me, which only made me want to talk about my attraction to girls more. (You know, that stubbornness to do exactly what people don’t want you to do. How angsty.) By the end of that year, still in the notion that I had to be only gay or straight, I started identifying as gay, and did so throughout the following senior year.

In the end of that summer, before starting college, I realized there was no need for a label that could only be one or the other. I started to identify as bisexual and I started to realize that that label felt most comfortable simply because I was attracted to males and females, romantically and sexually. At first, I was hesitant to use the label, especially after realizing I had mislabeled myself as gay for over a year before realizing I was bisexual, but now I comfortably state that I am bisexual without hesitation and without shame.

There’s a lot of perks to realizing I’m bisexual and I’m so thankful that I am bisexual, because it’s such a freeing sexual orientation to know I can be attracted to males and females and not “miss out” on opportunities with either. As a bisexual, I readily and enthusiastically have sex with guys and girls and enjoy both immensely and differently. With guys, I can have sex that’s so different than girls but just as satisfying and vice versa. I can pursue both sexes with equal pleasure, and I engage differently with both, so I’m able to satisfy certain needs and desires with one that I can’t with the other. I can also hit on guys and girls when an opportunity arrives, and not feel insecure or shameful about it. I can take a girl out to dinner, and I can let a guy take me out. I can dress in more masculine apparel and not have anyone think twice when the next day I dress more feminine. And being an open bisexual, society is more lenient towards me doing so.

I’m thankful that the views towards sexual orientation have been more accepting over the years, and if I was only just now in seventh grade at this day-and-age, I may have told my family and friends about my attraction to girls sooner, which may or may not have saved me a lot of stress.

To those still struggling with his or her own identity, you have plenty of time to figure it out. And it’s okay if you have to trial-and-error with different labels before you find out what fits best for you. And sometimes that means you don’t even need a label, which is completely alright. Your life and your sexual orientation are uniquely yours, and you need to take your time on living and loving it. Once you’re more accepting of your sexual orientation, you’ll realize how much of a weight it is lifted off your shoulders. And also keep in mind that there is more than one sexual orientation besides gay, straight, or bisexual.

It’s also okay to experiment, to test the waters, and see if how you’re feeling: is this attraction permanent or just a momentary thing? You can talk about it too, there’s always somewhere to talk about your sexual orientation confusion and identity struggle, whether it’s friends or family or a safe online community. You’ll start to notice you’re not the only one struggling, at that, you may even have people close to you who identify as something other than simply “straight."

Get educated on how you’re feeling, research the possibilities, see what you most identify with and what you don’t. Read up on your possible sexual orientation, read about people who have been through it, find a role model with a similar sexual orientation. Journal about yours, use it to inspire art, let it grow and change at its own pace. Keep in mind, that sexuality and labels can change for an individual, and don’t be scared or ashamed if it does.

Don’t keep your sexual orientation a secret from someone you think should know, otherwise it may cause more problems. If it causes problems when you tell them, you’ll get past it, you’ll work through it, and it will be okay. In time, they may change their negative view.

If you realize you’re bisexual, it can be pretty rough sometimes because society still pushes people to think that they can only be gay or straight, but that’s simply not the truth of it. The more open and accepting you are of your bisexuality, the more society will learn to accept it and embrace it. It’s definitely easier and more acceptable to be bisexual as a female in society, but being a male shouldn’t stop someone from embracing his bisexuality as well. So many people of both sexes experiment with people of his or her own sex, whether he or she is bisexual or not, so don’t worry if you do experiment and realize it is or isn’t how you really feel towards that sex. Just keep in mind that it’s perfectly okay to be bisexual and that it’s not wrong or something to be ashamed of. Life will go on, and your bisexuality will stay with you, and it will bring you to people of both sexes that you will love and care for, rather than just one sex over the other.

But most importantly, if you realize you are bisexual, do not be ashamed, do not be afraid, do not be worried. You are not any less important, and don’t let others make you feel like you are. Your sexual orientation is uniquely yours, and it's something to embrace and come to terms with. There's nothing wrong with you; you are still valid.