The Anxiety of Coming Out
Growing up, conversations about future boyfriends and a husband were ever present from a young age. It’s what my family and friends talked about. So I thought it was the norm. I listened but would rarely engage, as I didn’t feel I had much to add to the conversation.
I’ve always felt different. I wasn’t interested in dating in middle or high school. All my friends had boyfriends by the ninth grade. So I figured it would eventually happen for me. After graduating high school, I started to date men. I was a “one date wonder,” always finding something wrong with the guys and moving onto the next. After years of doing this, I started to think something was wrong with me.
At 19, I started the coming out process after researching sexuality and watching queer based shows and movies. Lesbian characters did not exist for me growing up. So when I found them, I entered a new world, a world I knew nothing about it. Then, it dawned on me, the disinterest in men, the pain of losing a close female friend in high school and countless crushes on my lady teachers made sense. I was gay!
After coming out to myself, anxiety flooded my body with fear and panic. My mind was going 100 miles an hour. I had panic attacks daily. The first and last thought for six months after I came out to myself was “I am gay.” After six months, I was ready to start the next steps in the coming out process. Coming out itself is an anxiety provoking experience. Partnered with an anxiety condition, it can seem overwhelming and too much to handle.
I was able to get through multiple coming outs to friends and family members. My voice was shaky and my hands were trembling, but I did it. I came out! After coming out to my close friends and family member, the daily panic attacks gradually went away, until something else caused my panic to emerge like passing a psychology test or getting a job.
Coming out was an anxiety-provoking time in my life, but trust me when I say, “It will get better.” Today, I am sometimes asked if I have a boyfriend or husband. I say, “No, I have a girlfriend.” I know I will continually have to come out throughout my life as many perceive me to be straight, but the more I’ve come out, the less anxious I feel about it.