Identity Crisis Part 2 (but more happy!)

Today, for some reason, my mind won’t stop whirring with thoughts. Like deep thoughts about life and stuff. I’m usually quite a deep thinker anyway, but today my mind is just an explosion, in a good way though.

As you may know from other rambling posts, I have been questioning my sexuality and identity for a few years now, but it’s become more intense in the past few months. Especially (inconveniently) in exam season when I was sort of stuck in this phase of ‘I don’t know who I am’. Then those feelings sort of disappeared for a little while as I came out to one of my closest friends and I felt a bit relieved to not have to ‘hide’ around everyone.

The past few days, however, I’ve started thinking about stuff again so I thought I’d try to write it out to make sense of my feelings and maybe it’ll help someone out there too who is questioning their identity.

I am bisexual. Or I’m pretty sure I am. I am attracted to both men and women, but the attraction I feel towards different genders is different, so sometimes that makes me question whether I am bisexual as I often go through long periods of being attracted to solely men or women. But for now that label feels okay, I’m not 100% comfortable with it but for now that’s what I’m going with.

One thing I’ve been noticing over the past few months is that the way I think about gender, or my gender, has changed. I’ve never really questioned my gender before, and I’m not sure if I’m questioning it now, but something ‘feels’ different. This is mainly in relation to clothing and the way I present and perceive myself. I find myself more and more shopping or browsing in the ‘men’s’ section which I know doesn’t really mean much as I don’t agree that clothes have a particular gender anyway, but I’m finding that I feel more comfortable dressing in a masculine way and it’s confusing me a bit.

Sometimes I’ll put on a dress or floral top or something and feel so uncomfortable I have to change immediately. Which is weird because although I was never a ‘girly’ girl as a child, during my teenagers I have been comfortable wearing these types of clothing up until recently. But now…I don’t know.

I find myself looking to men for fashion inspiration and wanting to wear men’s clothing. My friend and I often joke about my shirt obsession (I have too many oops) but itsy true that I feel most comfortable and happy in them because they feel masculine to me and I like the way I look when I wear them, especially with my brogues, which also happen to be from the men’s section. I don’t think it’s that I’m particularly attracted to men that dress in the way I try to (although I am attracted to some men but that’s another thing argh), it’s more like I want to ‘be’ them, I want to look like them and it’s SO CONFUSING.

However I know it’s perfectly okay to be female and wear more ‘masculine’ clothing and I should wear whatever makes me feel the most comfortable. I’m just confused as to why, all of a sudden, I feel the need to distance myself from anything feminine. But I’m not going to stress over it too much. For the moment, I am happy and I know that I’m discovering more about myself and who I am everyday. I’ll find the answer someday, but for now I’ve just got to do what makes me comfortable.

It feels a little weird writing about this, as it’s something I’ve never talked about before despite being at the back of my mind. If you can relate, I’d love to hear your perspective on things. 🙂

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Identity?? Crisis?? AHHH

I’m currently sat typing away on my laptop after finishing revision for the evening, watching the sun set through the lounge window and listening to the Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda audiobook (yes, I’m late the party OKAY). What more could you want?? Actually, it would be better if I was sat outside enjoying the last few rays of sunlight, but unfortunately our garden faces north so doesn’t get much sun past 3 pm. I’ve been trying to write this post over the past few weeks, but never quite getting it right. Sometimes thoughts are so confusing you have to just wait them out until they make enough sense to write down, or at least that’s what I find anyway.

Let me rewind a week and a bit to when I went to see Walk The Moon live for the first time. It was such a surreal experience – seeing them perform after years of listening to their music sparked a roller coaster of emotions, because their songs speak to me on a level that I can’t quite put into words. They’ve been like a friend, I guess, through my teenage years as I try to figure out more about myself and my sexuality. When I’ve felt lonely, confused and frustrated about my feelings, their music has helped me to feel accepted and less alone. So as you can imagine, seeing them sing the lyrics I’d held onto in tough times really hit me, in a good, but confusing and emotional way and since then I’ve been having this massive identity crisis. It’s like feelings and questions I’ve been repressing – unintentionally – for a long time have suddenly resurfaced.

It’s a funny thing, identity. A collection of carefully selected influences pieced together. Like a puzzle. A never ending, ever growing puzzle. As we go through life, we discover more pieces, make new connections, changing the image of ourselves that we portray to society. This concept has been troubling me lately – I keep experiencing this recurring feeling of uncertainty when I think about my identity, sometimes it feels like I really don’t know who I am, or what makes me me.

It’s taken me a good few days, but I’ve come to the conclusion that not knowing who I am yet isn’t a bad thing. At the moment, I’m quite enjoying life – it feels like everyday I’m learning new things about the world around me and it’s thrilling. Perhaps, throughout life, we never reach a point where we stop learning and discovering new things, so it correlates that we never stop learning new things about ourselves. Perhaps we’ll never find all the pieces to our own puzzles, but maybe that’s okay.

Throughout my life, my perception of myself and my identity has changed. When I was a child, I used to have very short hair and wear boys ‘designed’ for boys, I went to Scouts and loved spending time exploring the outdoors. I was just being me. My naive child-self wasn’t aware of the gender-shaped boxes that society would eventually force me into when I started secondary school. As a result of bullying, I reluctantly began to fit into societies norms by portraying myself as a stereotypical girl.

During my teenage years, I really lost sense of my identity and who I was. I became too focused on trying to fit myself into metaphorical boxes of what a girl should be instead of ‘thinking outside the box’, as it were, and just being me. Then I started – and still am – questioning my sexuality, which has been going on for a good 4 years now. Attraction is confusing and I’m still trying to understand that sexuality can be fluid and change as we do.

Everyday I feel different, in some respects, towards my identity. Not just my sexuality, but my overall perception of myself. It’s strange. Some days I feel comfortable and happy with who I am. Other times I don’t feel like I fit in – in society, in this town, in my own skin. I keep thinking back to when I was a child, and was happy being different and not meeting society’s expectations of what a girl “should” be. Now, I feel like I’ve spent too much time subconsciously shaping myself into an “acceptable” female that I’ve lost sense of who I really am. It’s hard to work out whether who I am now is just a mask I wear to avoid society’s questions or if this is just who I was always going to become. One thing I do know, is that I don’t fit in with the people I surround myself with, because they don’t know who I really am and frankly neither do I. I’m constantly pretending to be someone I’m not – for their sake and mine.

My understanding of gender and sexual identity is titled by my experiences, of course. The casual homophobia that is all too prevalent within the education system and the media. Even now, hardly a day goes by where I don’t overhear someone using labels of sexuality interchangeably with insults or make “jokes” at the expense of the LGBTQA+ community during lessons. It makes me want to hide more, put up another disguise. Showing a fraction of my real identity to the world because I’m scared to show what I feel inside.

I need a change, and space, to explore who I am – a blank canvas to repaint myself using the colours of the overshadowed, repressed version of myself that I used to let show to be able to move on to the next part of my “identity journey”, to collect more puzzle pieces. Maybe I won’t be truly happy until I know who I am. Or maybe I won’t know who I am until I am truly happy. Either way, I’ve got to keep swimming through this confusing stage in my life.

Who knew a concert could trigger an identity crisis, eh?

//Lets Talk About…Bisexuality//

Earlier on this week, Victoria wrote an important post about bisexual myths in aid of supporting #BiWeek. Before reading her post, I didn’t even know bi week was a thing (being relatively new to the lgbt+ community) and as soon as I heard of it I just had to get involved.

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GLAAD – an organisation that uses the media to educate society about the struggles LGBT people face and helping them overcome them by promoting equality.  (Graphic is from here).

As part of #BiWeek – co-created by GLADD – today, 23rd September 2016, marks annual Celebrate Bisexuality Day so I though it would be fitting to talk about my feelings towards bi-erasure which is something that, sadly, often goes hand-in-hand with bisexuality.

Bisexual erasure can be defined as:

the tendency to ignore, remove, falsify, or reexplain evidence of bisexuality in history, academia, news media and other primary sources. In its most extreme form, bisexual erasure can include denying that bisexuality exists.

As you can probably guess, bi-erasure can take many forms. The one I have come across most, however, is the misunderstanding that sexuality is determined by the gender of the person you are in a relationship with. For instance, if you are in a relationship with a member of the opposite sex, it is automatically assumed you are straight, and if you are in a relationship with a member of the  same sex, it is automatically assumed you are gay.

I think the basis of this misconception boils down to lack of awareness as to what bisexuality actually is. So here’s a quick definition:

Bisexuality – being attracted to both members of the same sex and the opposite sex but not necessarily equally or at the same.

Therefore, a bisexual person can be in a relationship with a member of the same sex, knowing that there is the possibility of them being attracted to a member of the opposite sex in the future and vice versa. When bisexual people enter relationships with members of the same sex, they don’t magically ‘become’ gay, the same as they don’t ‘become’ straight when they’re in a relationship with someone of the opposite sex.
Although it’s great that society is coming to accept lesbians and gay men more, we need to clarify that there aren’t just gay people and straight people, that there are many other sexualities in between, bisexuality being one of them.

So, when a bisexual person is in a relationship with someone of the same sex, they are bisexual. And when a bisexual person is in a relationship with someone of the opposite sex, guess what? They are still bisexual.

I understand the concept of bisexuality can be confusing to some people, but I hope my post has helped to show you just how straightforward it is, or should be. 🙂

By spreading the word and helping people understand bisexuality, the issue of bi-erasure will (hopefully) be tackled. Because it’s hard enough trying to figure out what your sexuality is, then find the confidence to identify as that only to be told that your sexuality ‘doesn’t exist’ or is ‘just a phase’. So to all my fellow bisexuals, lets spend today celebrating our sexuality and fighting against bi-erasure and the various forms it can take. 🙂