3 years ago, I had recently finished my sophomore year of college. That semester was one of growth. I had already put off declaring a major, and needed to decide on one. Like most decisions that I make, an answer was there all along, I just wasn’t aware of it/ignored it. That answer was Psychology. I feel like my major declaration was less of a career choice, and more of a sorting hat decision. I was in a place where I needed to discover who I was, and understand people and me. Taking psychology classes was like giving myself opportunities to find that out. My joint minors of Philosophy and Cognitive Science were there to help me discover the world and think about life’s big questions.
They were there for me when I needed them. I’m not saying I’m not going to use my degree in my career. To say I won’t use a Psychology degree would be rather obtuse of me. There’s no way I won’t use it. My degree has shaped how I view the world. Those experiences will have an effect on how I act in the future. And for those who are keeping track, I am still planning to pursue Cognitive Neuroscience for the time being.
3 years ago, my sister graduated. We were finally done with the festivities. My aunt was over and we decided to watch Paranormal Activity (the only horror movie I have seen to date). I couldn’t watch it again, but I remember sitting in the office adjacent to the living room with headphones in. I remember telling my mother that I needed to talk to her about something, and that it can be later that night. I remember brooding on what I was going to say.
3 years ago, I came out to my mother. As my aunt left that night, I told her I was going to do it, her encouraging hug and words left me with hope. Hope that even if things didn’t work out that I was still loved. As I sat down on the couch next to my mom, all the words I had had disappeared. That feeling that your entire life was going to change permeated my body. This was a moment of huge change. One that I’ve only felt a handful of times before that: my father dying, enlisting, graduating high school and Advanced Individual Training, moving to Duluth, declaring the Psychology major.
That’s when I told her, I remember feeling like I said it in slow motion, when it probably was quickened by anxiety and anticipation. I remember my mom’s initial reaction of surprise. She didn’t have the luxury of knowing the huge change was coming. I had planned this out. I had planned that I would do it on this day. Not because it is the start of Pride Month, I hadn’t even begun to think of Pride, or the LGBT+ community. But because it was the longest I could give my mother to accept me before major holidays. I waited so I could attend my sister’s graduation, let our family be together and celebrate with her. I waited until her graduation was over, and not a day more. That’s what made me say those words that night. Knowing that if I put it off, it would be less time before Thanksgiving or Christmas. But also, keeping in mind that I may not be welcome there no matter how much time I had given my mom.
That is the reality LGBT+ kids have to face, this idea that you could potentially go from being loved and accepted to not. This idea that in one moment your entire world could change. You hope it is for the better. But if your family doesn’t accept you, will you really be happier? You can’t just take those words back. Once they are said, the “damage is done”, you may have rained on their parade of what they thought of you.
Luckily for me, my mom was accepting. She loves me very much, and it shows through her actions. There wasn’t a moment where I thought I had screwed up. We had an intelligent conversation about it that night. One where she asked questions, one where I didn’t have all of the answers, and one where she shared how her thoughts about it had changed over the years. The biggest change was a shift in what she thought my future would look like. For me, the best change was that shift. A future where the only defining thing is that I’m happy. Happy.
Since then, my mom and I have only grown closer. I feel like she understands me more than she ever has before. I’ve come out to my siblings who were both supportive in their own ways. As well as, coming out publicly, online. Now, I live my life, knowing that those who matter don’t mind.
3 years ago, oh how far I’ve come. 3 years seems like nothing compared to the entirety of the journey that I’ve been on. I’ve grown so much. I’ve conquered what seemed unconquerable. I’ve had more huge change moments, and I know there will be more to come.
Thank you all for being a part of this journey, and for wanting my future to be happy.