I chose what to eat for breakfast this morning. I chose my school, I chose my major, I chose my house, my dog, my friends, my car, my job. I choose to smoke a cigarette or a joint. I choose to have a drink or not.
But what are the things that I don’t choose?
I didn’t choose my parents; I didn’t choose my name. I didn’t choose my body type or the color of my eyes. I didn’t choose my terrible eyesight or my brothers and sisters. Those are things over which I have no control, but that doesn’t mean that I would change them if I could.
The same applies to the question of sexuality. I never made a choice. I never thought, “I would love to bat for both teams. I would love to be misunderstood and looked down upon. I would love to experience hostility from both the straight and gay communities. I am really looking forward to questioning the validity of my relationships in the eyes of God, and in the eyes of my family and friends.”
It wasn’t a process of elimination or a list of pros and cons. In short, it wasn’t a decision. It wasn’t a choice. I couldn’t change it if I wanted to.
But that’s the thing I recently realized: I wouldn’t change it even if I could. If someone offered me a “cure” (aside from the fact that all so-called “cures” are offensive in their very nature), I would turn it down flat. This is a part of who I am. This has made me stronger.
I am a 22 year-old bisexual woman. But that doesn’t encompass all that I am. I am also a daughter, a friend, an American, a Christian, a granddaughter, a sister, a sister-in-law, a student, a teacher, a cynic, a French-speaker, and a writer.
Don’t let one word label who you are. Don’t let anyone force you into a neat little category, shifting your values to fit into a four-by-four square box. Take those things about yourself that you can’t change, and embrace them.
Don’t let bullies push you around with hate and empty intimidation. I won’t lie to you and say ignoring them will make them stop, because most of the time it won’t. But you mustn’t let them win. Don’t give them the satisfaction. They don’t deserve it. They don’t deserve your time, your energies, your thoughts. We are better than that. If they must belittle others to make themselves feel whole, that is their problem. Not ours.
Don’t become a melange of everyone around you, picking up thoughts, beliefs, and ideas and carrying them around claiming them as your own.
Even uttering the words “Be yourself” screams of cliche, but it can be more than that.
Make it more than that.
It took me a long time to be me. That was probably the most important choice I’ve ever made. I chose to be myself with my friends and family. And you know what? The world didn’t end. The walls didn’t come crashing down, nothing imploded. But I still deal with hostility and hate. Everyone does.
And I don’t know about you, but I’ve had moments where it became too much. I’ve had moments that stole my breath and buried my soul. To that I say: I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to live my life–and live it well–and prove them wrong.