We're All In The Closet

We're All In The Closet

We're all hiding from something
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I think at this point, everyone is familiar with what coming out of the closet means. It’s when a person tells someone, their family, friends, etc. that they’re gay. Or pansexual. Or transgender. Or asexual. Or genderqueer. Or aromantic. It can be any number of things, but generally, it means getting up the courage to tell someone you care about that you’re not who they thought you were, a cisgender heterosexual.

Coming out can be terrifying for a lot of reasons. Maybe whoever you’re coming out to is very conservative and they might reject you. Maybe they don’t know what to think and they might simply dismiss you. Maybe they’re incredibly loving and supportive and you know that, but there’s still a tiny chance they could react badly.

Leaving the closet is hard, and it takes a lot of courage. It only takes a few simple words, but they’re words that change how people perceive you, forever. They don’t change who you are, not really, but to some people, they will. It’s impossible to predict how someone is going to react to such a conversation.

This kind of fear is not reserved for people who are not cissexual or cisgender. Lots of people are in the closet. Lots of people are afraid to come out. Almost everyone has secrets or hidden parts of their identity, things only the people closest to you know, maybe something only you know.

Maybe you’re depressed or suicidal.
Maybe you are struggling with an addiction.
Maybe you’re a die-hard Trump supporter in a liberal family or a Bernie supporter in a conservative one.
Maybe you’ve been diagnosed with an illness.
Maybe you’re an atheist, a Muslim, an agnostic.
Maybe you have an eating disorder.
Maybe your dreams don’t align with other people’s plans for you.
Maybe you have an opinion you’re too afraid to voice.






Whatever it is, everyone has a closet and some sort of secret inside it. It’s alright to keep secrets from some people. It’s ok to not share personal things with everyone. There’s a difference between keeping a secret and keeping one that feels like telling a lie.

Because the longer you stay in the closet, the harder it becomes to keep that secret hidden from people you care about. It’s stressful. It requires constant monitoring of words and actions, even facial expressions because the smallest mistake could give you away. It’s difficult to be on guard all the time, every waking moment. If you can’t let that secret be known, it becomes a gigantic burden.

The longer you wait, the heavier it gets. The longer you wait, the harder it can become to come out, because it’s just easier to stay in the closet. You already know how people react to who they think you are. Once they know, there’s no going back. Do they really need to know?

That’s not a question I can answer.

I can tell you that you are not alone. No matter what it is that keeps you in the closet, there are others struggling with the exact same thing. There are people who know what you’re going through.

I can tell you that having a secret doesn’t change who you are. Just because someone doesn’t know every single thing about you doesn’t mean that they don’t know you enough to love and respect you.

I can tell you that remaining in the closet is not cowardly. Sure, it sometimes feels like it’s the easy way out, but there is no easy way out in these situations. Nobody can tell you that you shouldn’t be in the closet anymore, or that you should just get it over with. That’s your decision to make when you feel safe and ready to do so. If that happens, great. If not, that’s still your choice and no one gets to judge you for it.

Cover Image Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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Past Legal And Modern Social Apartheid

An opinion piece on past legal Apartheid in South Africa and how it is socially reflected in the United States.

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When stepping inside of a solitary cell at Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg, I felt a tightness in my chest and wanted to leave that small space immediately; imagining a Black South African who broke the pass laws during Apartheid being in there is beyond disturbing. Due to laws such as the Native (Urban) Areas Act No 21 of 1923, the Bantu/Native Building Workers Act of 1951, and the Bantu Homelands Citizens Act of 1970, Black South Africans during Apartheid were extremely limited in where they could live, detrimentally affecting their economic and employment opportunities. When touring the former Constitutional Hill prison, the guide told us that, when Black South Africans were caught without passes permitting their stay in Joburg for the day and/or night, they spent 5 days in prison, along with murderers and others who committed serious crimes. If caught multiple times breaking these pass laws, they would spend 5 years in this prison. Most of those who violated these pass laws were unemployed or sought better employment in Joburg; this is understandable, as a person has a better chance of having a job by being there physically. When thinking further about the lack of opportunity they suffered from due to the aforementioned laws creating this effect, this legal repercussion becomes further and further disturbing. Additionally, this also directly led to the creation of "White" and "Black" areas, where Whites lived in areas of better opportunity (ex. cities, suburbia), and Blacks were subjected to living in poverty and townships where there was limited economic and employment opportunities.

This lack of opportunity is echoed in the U.S. when looking at socially designated "White" and "Black" areas. Trayvon Martin was murdered by George Zimmerman essentially because he thought Martin "was not where he belonged", which was in a nice suburban area. As a person of color myself, I have been stared at in museums, followed in stores, and once at 12 years old kicked out of a shop (I did not do anything wrong), because I "stuck out". In this way, society told me (and violently told Martin) that we don't belong in those areas, that we "belong" in ghettos or prison; the racial demographics of populations in U.S. prisons will support me here. Therefore, by society socially designating where people "belong", not only do they bind themselves in their own ignorance, but also prevent people of color from sharing the same access to plentiful life and economic opportunity.

References

Native (Urban) Areas Act No 21 of 1923: Prevented Black South Africans from leaving designated area without a pass. The ruling National Party saw this as keeping Whites "safe" while using Blacks for cheap labor.

Bantu/Native Building Workers Act of 1951: Allowed Black South Africans to enter the building industry as artisans and laborers. Restricted to "Native" areas. Prevented competition between Whites, Coloureds, and Blacks. Could not work outside a designated area unless given special permission.

Bantu Homelands Citizens Act of 1970: All Black South Africans would lose their South African citizenship/nationality over time. Would not be able to work in "South Africa" due to being aliens. Black South Africans would have to work inside their own areas and could only work in urban areas if they had special permission from the Minister.


South African History Online. "Apartheid Legislation 1850s-1970s." South African History Online, South African History Online, 11 Apr. 2016, www.sahistory.org.za/article/apartheid-legislation....

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