Coming Out of a Straight Life
The process of coming out and sharing your authentic self with the rest of the world is a journey of deep personal exploration. It is a journey that starts way before any words are ever muttered aloud. Like most journeys, it is one that progresses (and sometimes regresses) through different phases. However, it is a journey that can be very rewarding in the end.
Here I have outlined the different phases of the coming out journey as I see it.
Phase 1 - Questioning
The journey often begins with coming out to yourself first and developing a deeper understanding of your identity. You may start by asking yourself some prominent questions. Am I gay, bisexual or pansexual, maybe? Am I transgender, gender non-conforming, or non-binary? When it comes to sexuality and gender, there is a wide spectrum of labels and, if you must choose, it can be difficult to determine which one fits you best, if any of them at all. So, you might find yourself wondering how you can know for sure.
Phase 2 - Checking to be sure
To give yourself a yardstick by which to measure, your next step may be to seek out connections with people who have stories you can relate to. If you haven't already done so, you might find yourself looking for T.V. shows or movies to watch that have LGBTQ characters. You may also turn to online forums to read about the self-actualization journey of others in an effort to learn from their experiences and to see if you identify with them in any way. You may also start experimenting with this new identity and testing your personal boundaries within it.
Phase 3 - Acceptance
You have more or less settled in on the truth of your personal identity. You and your inner self are on better terms and you are ready to speak your truth to others.
Phase 4 - Telling people
Oh, crap! Now you have to tell people. Who do you tell first?
Much thought often goes into determining the order in which a person chooses to tell people. Some people start by telling people by whom they feel the least threatened by fear of rejection - other members of the LGBTQ community, online acquaintances, distant friends, etc. - as they work up to telling their close friends and family. Others, on the other hand, start with the people closest to them, either out of necessity or for the mere factor of getting the hardest part over with first. Regardless of the order you determine is best, one thing is for sure...it most often ends up turning out better than you anticipated, which increases your confidence in being able to continue to move forward.
Phase 5 - Taking Ownership
You are now fully living as your authentic self and it feels great! There may have been bumps in the road along the way, but you made it! Ideally, you have let go of a lot of fear and anxiety and as a result you are feeling happier and more confident. You very likely are experiencing increased satisfaction in your relationships with others and more importantly in your relationship with yourself. You may even find yourself reflecting back to the person you were before starting this journey and wondering what you were so afraid of. But, regardless of how your journey unfolds, it is your journey and it is unfolding exactly as it should.
If you are needing support as you journey through coming out, CONTACT me and to set up an appointment. I provide both in-office and online sessions.
For additional inspiration for letting go of any fear you may have with coming out, check out my PODCAST, Leaving Fear Behind.