Figuring out who you are can be a tricky process. It can seem daunting to identify with a new label and even scarier to express yourself in our judgemental society. These are some of the things I wish I had been told while discovering and exploring my sexuality.
1. Questioning your identity is a perfectly normal process.
Everybody goes through self discovery. In fact some may argue that self discovery is a life long process. Your sexuality is a part of who you are whether you are straight, gay, bisexual, or somewhere in between. Be kind to yourself and know that you are the only one who can truly define how you feel.
2. Figuring out who you are takes time.
Nobody understands their personal style overnight. Sexuality is no different. Maybe you love wearing dresses and lipstick or maybe dress shirts and bow ties are more your jam. Think back to a few years ago. Has your style evolved? Chances are it probably has. It's okay to take your time and experiment with different labels just like it's okay to update your style. Eventually, just like your style will most likely become more defined, your expression of sexuality and preferred labels will become more prominent as well.
3. If you don't want to label yourself that's okay.
How cool would it be to live in a society that doesn't put so much pressure on putting yourself in a box? Look, labels can be helpful and most are not created with bad intentions in mind, however sometimes when you're in the process of learning who you are labels can make things even more confusing. It's perfectly okay not to put a label on how you feel, especially if you are still figuring that out.
4. Find a support system.
Find people who will support you no matter how you feel. Not everyone will understand right away and unfortunately there may be some people who will never fully understand. BUT remember there will always be someone in your corner who is rooting for you. Find those people and make them your family.
5. Be kind to yourself.
I cannot emphasize this enough! Learn to love who you are. The more you can learn to love and accept who you are, the more others will appreciate your presence. Life can be pretty damn tough sometimes. Remember to give yourself breaks. You're only human. Be nice to you.
6. Forget about the word "phase".
Eventually and unfortunately you will most likely be faced with the oh-too-overused "are you sure this isn't just a phase?" question *deep sigh.* Maybe it's from your grandma, a best friend, or a parent. Whoever asks this probably won't understand the hurt and shame this can cause even if they don't mean to be hurtful. Keep you head up and remember that no matter how you feel, you deserve to be respected and validated. Even if your attraction to a particular gender doesn't last, that part of you still existed and deserves to be acknowledged. Feelings can change. You're allowed to evolve.
7. Stereotypes are not always true, but sometimes they are and that's okay too.
No matter what that BuzzFeed quiz tells you, playing softball and wearing flannels doesn't make you a lesbian. Your attraction makes you a lesbian. Sure there are some gay women who do seem to only wear Birkenstocks drive Subarus. I mean stereotypes exist for a reason! However don't let those define who you are.
8. Above all, live gratefully, lovingly, and unapologetically.
Be true to who you are. Be grateful for the people you have supporting you and love who you love. At the end of the day, you decide who you are and how you want to live your life. Live it the way that makes you happy.