The Tricky Art of Being Yourself

I think as children we always have ideas of what we will be like as adults, what our lives will be like. For some reason, I imagined myself being a lot taller.

But I never imagined myself being gay. This doesn’t necessarily mean that I wasn’t gay then, in retrospect, I see now that there were clues all along. I always grew up being told that I should always strive to be myself, and no one else.

As I have discovered as an adult, this is much easier said than done.

Once I realized I was gay at the ripe old age of 17 (making high school really fun) I was faced with a moral dilemma. Because unfortunately in the small town I grew up in, being yourself did not mean being your gay self. What if being myself didn’t fit in with other’s expectations? I struggled through college with this idea as well. Basically i had two selves: my straight self and my real self. Suddenly being yourself felt like keeping the world’s biggest secret. It means constantly having to fabricate excuses and lies and pronouns to cover the truth. And I’m not that clever to begin with, so this was really difficult for me. But humor aside, secrets are heavy. After years of carrying them, i felt my back straining under the weight. So I made a decision when I began coming out to my family and friends, that I would only be my real self.

I did this about as gracefully as I would dance in the Russian Ballet.

It was awkward, and clumsy and horrible. How do you say, “i know i’ve been telling you i’m straight all these years, but actually i am utterly and completely gay. any questions?”

There were lots of questions, and lots of feelings. But with all of these awkward and uncomfortable moments, i realized that one by one I was shedding the secrets that had made their home on my back for so long. As each one disappeared, I walked a little taller, and I felt a little lighter.

When I started to be myself, I thought the world would end and the town’s folk would chase me out of the city with pitchforks. But really, it was the opposite. I moved to a liberal city and was met with a lot of support and acceptance. Life went on, and I went on. Looking back now, I can’t imagine going back to that double life, not when my life is so great now.

I’m not a therapist, nor am I qualified to give any advice. Unless you need help choosing a clearance wine at Target on 8:00 on a Tuesday night, cause I’ve got your back!

However, I do have experience, and experience has taught me this. No matter how scary or how unorthodox it is, being your authentic self is the absolute best thing in the world. Because that self is the most beautiful version of you. I hope if you’re reading this and going through anything similar, know that you’re not alone. There’s a community who all have your back. If anyone reading this ever needs someone to listen, my proverbial door is always open. I would say physically, but it’s cold y’all and heat ain’t cheap! I’ve put the link to my bio page here, and this includes my contact info. Trust me, I’ll do a happy dance in my fuzzy slippers if I hear from you!

I hope that wasn’t too preachy. Or stupid. It was probably both.

-Celeste

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