My sexuality and gender have been some of the most confusing things I have ever experienced. When my older brother first heard the word lesbian, he decided to torment me with it. I was really young and had no idea what it meant, but I cried and yelled and denied it anyway. I don't think he really knew what it meant either.
When I was eleven, I told my mom I “kind of” liked a girl I went to school with. That was a total lie; I was pretty desperately infatuated. I didn't dare say bisexual or (God forbid) lesbian. In my mind, I thought those words were just completely off limits.
I was twelve when I thought I was a boy. I hated my body. I think I was so confused about my gender because I didn't have a good understanding of what being female meant. My mom had finally left her abusive boyfriend that year, and we lived together in a domestic violence shelter. I was surrounded by women who suffered from violence mostly inflicted by men. I was terrified of being victimized, and still am to a certain extent, but cope better now. It felt safer for me to repress anything feminine about myself. This is in no way meant to invalidate transgender people, it's just my personal experience of misinterpreting myself as a woman who didn't conform to what I was taught women were meant to be. I feel stronger now, and I’m more confident about my masculine and feminine traits. Each of them are a deep and important part of me. I am now able to understand that I can still be a woman even when deviating from what I once thought women were supposed to be.
To this day, I struggle with my identity as a lesbian. I only started using that word in the last sixth months. Now my brother has come up with some more creative words to irritate me about being gay, even though he still believes I'll love men one day, like a lot of my family. I feel really comfortable with myself, though. I am still learning to get support and not feel guilty about it, and not feel guilty for talking about being a lesbian in front of other people. I am finding the confidence to be myself around everyone. And to anyone questioning themselves, you don't need to be scared. You will figure it out. Don't feel bad for being unsure of your identity, and don't feel bad for being sure.