I always knew I was different.
I’m an only child, so I never had siblings to teach me anything. Since I had no one else to teach me things, I became a very curious person. This meant that I only learned the things that I wanted to learn and what school taught me. Because of this, I have always been book smart but my street knowledge was highly lacking. I don’t remember what age I learned about being gay, but I’ve always known the meaning. And even though I knew what gay was, it took me a long time to figure out that I was some kind of gay.
Being aware of my uniqueness starts as far back as elementary school. I would always be hanging with the boys because I was more interested in basketball and football than I was in makeup and dolls. Although I was just being myself, I got bullied for it. The kids saw that I was different; I was bigger than them all, I was too nice, I dressed like the boys. They would tease me and call me names like ‘elephant’ and make fun of the way I dressed. At the time, I just brushed it off thinking ‘names will never hurt me’. I didn’t think I cared what they thought about me. But what I called brushing off was actually bottling up, and after years of ‘brushing off’, my bottle was full. You see, a bottle once full will start to spill, but my bottle broke.
My parents forced me into therapy in the eighth grade, and at the time I hated it. I insisted on ignoring all of the anger inside me, and I didn’t want to tell anyone how I was really feeling—Especially not some lady I had just met. In my mind, it was better to live in silent pain than trying to cry for help. It was also about this time that I noticed I not only liked boys, but I also liked girls. I honestly never really thought that I had to be ashamed for liking girls. so I never officially came out. I just started talking about girls with my mom and all was good in my opinion. So, yes, I survived that year in junior high, but I wasn’t living. Waking up every day and getting hurt by the broken pieces of my mind, fighting to just get up and keep going; that was not living.
Starting as a freshman, I didn’t know it at the time, but the next two years of my life would be the hardest and the darkest I’d ever experienced. It wasn’t long before I learned what anorexia and body dysphoria were. I didn’t realize it, but now some of my shadows had names. I never was anorexic. but I hated my body so much that I wished every day I would stop eating. Even though I didn’t want to eat, I wanted to keep my strength, so I kept eating. This just made me hate myself even more. I started to self-harm, and I had never had anxiety, but suddenly everything would freak me out. I had my first anxiety attack over a girl I liked, and the feeling never left me. The worry and panic would always be lurking in the back of my mind, haunting me. Then, one night I was getting in the shower and I happened to stop and look at myself in the mirror. I fell to the floor a sobbing, shaking mess, because I hated so much the figure looking back at me. I hated that my chest wasn’t flat and that I was curvy. I hated that my face was so round and that I didn’t have a penis. That was when the dysphoria hit me hardest and I knew yet another reason why I was different.
I became very depressed, and part of the problem was nothing felt right. I couldn't find words to describe who I was, and in my mind, that meant I didn’t belong anywhere. I tried every label I thought would fit; straight, lesbian, genderfluid, transgender, bisexual, agender, but none. of. them. were. right. I just wanted to know who I was, to feel accepted and like I belonged. I was still doing therapy, but I was still resisting. Sometimes, I would leave therapy more upset than when I came, but my parents kept making me go. Even though I was the most confused I had ever been, I couldn’t find it in myself to trust someone else with my problems. Everything I was going through internally was slowly breaking my heart, and I thought that I was the only one who could fix it. I started writing to try and express my emotions and it helped a little bit. Putting words onto a page made it all real to me. Everything I was feeling was no longer just voices in my head, it was words on a page and they meant something. This helped me realize that talking about my feelings kind of felt good, and that’s when I started to open up. It took a long time to even scratch the surface of my anger and pain, because after six or more years of bottling, it was a lot. And the hardest part was once I let some of it out, I felt everything come rushing back like I was living through it all again. But this time, I was finally letting someone help me.
I know that I found my identity around the end of this time, but I don’t recall exactly when. I was starting to become very involved in the LGBT+ community so I was doing a bunch of research on terms and identities. After some time, I came across two terms that I had never heard before and didn’t quite understand; Pansexual and Bigender. Wanting to learn more, I started searching. Once I found their definitions, I felt an overwhelming sense of belonging and clarity. I always knew I was different, but once I learned about being bigender and pansexuality, these words finally felt right. I didn’t know anyone else who identified as these, but that was okay because I finally knew who I was. I was finally starting to understand me.
There were multiple reasons why I was so confused and angry, but one of the ones I still struggle with is my upbringing in the LDS church. I don’t hate the church or hate being a part of it, but I hate the people in it. They judge so harshly and don’t try to understand who you are. I went in circles in my own head for years about homosexuality and what the church views on it. But, what finally broke the circles was when I gave up trying to understand. I stopped asking why and how and finally just started to ignore it. I haven’t been to church in a couple years, not because of the religion, but simply because all I want to feel is love. And maybe I’m not a ‘Mormon’ anymore but, I still love God. I finally settled in my own heart and mind that there is somebody up there and they see me. I’m not sure why I am who I am but as long as I love everyone, no matter who they are, there can’t be anything wrong with that.
So in the end of this all, who am I? My name is Sara. I am Pansexual and Bigender and my preferred pronouns are usually she/her. I’m a senior in high school and it feels like I lived those two years a lifetime ago. And you know, even though this is an end, it is also a beginning. It is the beginning of the rest of my life, and I’m ready to live it.
I always knew I was different; but that was never a bad thing.