I’ve always equated figuring out my sexuality with feeling enough.
For many years, I felt like I was nothing, like I wasn’t a person. I felt empty.
I didn’t feel enough.
Sexuality was my primary struggle growing up. When I was 13, I had the first instance of being attracted to men. During the process of figuring out who I was—I dealt with depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and even attempts. In hindsight, I feel my war with sexuality directly correlated with these struggles.
I kept everything to myself. My sexuality was all I could think about, and I was torturing myself by obsessing over it. I did everything I could to get rid of the confusion during my teenage years. I tried conditioning myself. I wore a rubber band on my wrist and would pull it taut so that it would snap against my skin every time a “gay” thought came into my mind.
But it wasn’t working. I still didn’t feel enough.
Next, I turned to the internet, hoping it would tell me who I was. I did research on what it meant to be gay and made an anonymous account on yahoo answers, hoping the world could tell me who I was. I kept asking the same question, describing my story—wanting to get “you’re straight” in all of the responses.
But that didn’t happen.
Online, a common question being asked on posts from people struggling with their sexuality was: “Why obsess over something that makes up only a small portion of your life?” This question made me angry. Because for me, figuring out who I was was everything.
The people surrounding me were in relationships, talking about their first kisses, and sex. And that area of my life was a mess. I didn’t know how to feel enough or “normal” without figuring my sexuality out.
This one part of my life was torturing me and causing so much pain. I felt alone. My depression grew and thoughts of suicide became more frequent. I was obsessed. I would spend countless hours thinking about it. I HAD to figure it out. I HAD to—or else I would still be nothing. Still not a person. Still not enough.
At my lowest, I realized that I couldn’t figure this out alone. Terrifying or not, I had to tell someone.
With all the courage in the world, I went to see a counselor at my university. I poured everything out to him, my words coming out so fast. It felt like bricks were being lifted from the top of my head as I spoke. All that I had experienced during my teenage years felt concrete. And though I still felt terrified—vulnerable even—there was a sense of liberation.
Over the past two years, I’ve seen two different therapists; I’ve cried a lot. I was pushed outside of my comfort zone. And though I still struggle with my mental health, I’ve finally come to terms with who I am. I’ve started to feel like a person.
I’ve started to feel enough.
I’ve accepted my sexuality: I’m gay. And acknowledging that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But it was worth it. And that period of confusion was OK, too. It’s OK to be confused about who you are.
We all want to feel like we’re enough, like we’re worthy of loving others and ourselves. But realize that you don’t need to have it all figured out to be or feel like you’re enough. I was enough then. I am enough now. You are too.
We are enough.
To those in the LGBTQ community, if you are struggling and in need of support, please reach out to our friends at The Trevor Project. The Trevor Lifeline (1-866-488-7386) is available 24/7. You are not alone.