a reflection inspired by National Coming Out Day

*Photo by Ten Thousand Hours Photo 

October 11th was National Coming Out Day. I’ve never really shared “my story” publicly, and seeing all the honest and vulnerable posts of others inspired me to write my own. It may be several days late, and an extremely simplified summary of a very complex experience, but here it is.

We live in a world that values heteronormative relationships above all others. This is true. It is especially true, or obvious, if you do not identify as heterosexual, cisgender, or anything else that blurs the lines of the gender/sex/attraction binaries our society so desperately clings to. In the same vein, many people who deviate from the “norm” feel trapped, in what they may not realize is compulsory heterosexuality.

That’s all the jargon I’m going to include in this – it is only a blog post! I want to reflect on these ideas and how I’ve experienced them and subsequently dealt with them in my life, as I can’t speak for others, but I am sure some can relate. So get ready for a personal post.

It’s funny what you realize when you look back on your life.

I don’t know if this is going to be a coming out story, but maybe a coming to the realization, that I am in fact, not straight, and then, the process of sorting out my identity and labels from there. It is not easy. The default expected is heterosexual, so I found myself trying to justify how I felt about girls, to negate it, and to convince myself that a future in a relationship with a man was possible. I did this in several ways – firstly, by excusing my lack of interest in guys, think along the lines of “I’ll meet someone in college”, “I just have really high standards”, “I’m too busy for a relationship” etc etc… the crushes that I did have were more platonic than anything, I’ve since realized. I even went as far to research as many LGBTQ+ identities that explained a lack of attraction to men, and labelled myself as asexual briefly. But it didn’t sit right with me.

I played around with creating complicated labels to fit this “I’m definitely not gay but maybe not straight” box I was drawing for myself. I knew I wasn’t bisexual, or pansexual, or anything along those lines and I couldn’t picture myself in a relationship with a guy, but I couldn’t bring myself to admit that I was a lesbian. The word felt wrong, it felt like it carried weighty, negative connotations. Which, in some cases, it does, for some people. I still have trouble with it some days. I became obsessed with finding a label for myself that felt right, felt comfortable, and had no luck, really. Eventually I just accepted that I was gay – in the umbrella term sort of way, and left it at that.

I feel like this sounds cliche, but I feel leaving my tiny hometown and going to university on a huge campus was part of what led me to accept myself as I was. Or to even have the space to figure it out, instead of suppressing any less than heteronormative inclinations. I felt a freedom and a sense of anonymity, a sense of having no one to be accountable for except myself. I was surrounded by diverse, inspiring people, often being unapologetically themselves, and this atmosphere, combined with a very positive community of LGBTQ people in my life led me to let go a little, and just be me. To stop over-analyzing myself. To let life happen as it was meant to. And thank god I did.

Fast forward another two years -I’m engaged to a beautiful woman who I love more than anything in the world – and my life is completely different than how I would have ever imagined it, but also, completely better than I’d ever imagined it.

It takes time. It’s confusing, it’s frustrating, it’s scary, but coming out, or even coming to accept any part of yourself that you’d rather have hidden away, is an extremely liberating process. Through this experience, I have empowered myself to live how I want to, to escape my constant worries about what others may think of me (at least, to some extent), to live honestly, and to live, most of all, happily.

Be kind to yourself. Be patient with yourself. It takes time – no matter whether you are coming out to yourself, to others, or are trying to accept some other aspect of your life that challenges societal standards. Give yourself space, time, and love, and you will be grateful you did.

love,

JC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

rings! photos! family!

So, since I didn’t manage to get a post published yesterday (busy Thanksgiving weekend!), here is my sort of catch-all update post before I go back to writing pre-scheduled posts on specific topics!

LIFE UPDATE: Most who know me personally will already know this – but within the past week, Sky and I got engaged! It was a mutual proposal, however we both proposed on different days (let’s be honest – it was as basically as soon as we had the ring), in the comfort of our own apartment and so many happy tears were shed. I am so excited to be on this journey with her and while we are currently just enjoying our engagement, I will be sure to share details as we decide on wedding related things as they come up! We have a late summer/fall wedding in mind, however not for a few years! I am so incredibly happy to have found Sky, and to get to spend my life with her. We are thinking of doing a winter engagement shoot, however, for now, enjoy a few pictures we took ourselves!

I’ve spent the last couple weeks brushing up on my photography skills, only a few months after seriously considering selling my camera. I didn’t, luckily, since I now I have caught quite the photography bug. I took pictures of Sky with her engagement ring, and then with my sister, Alexa, and am very happy with how they turned out! I have found myself itching to take more pictures, researching techniques, obsessing over established photographers, and wondering if this is something I could one day do professionally. For now, I am just going to enjoy taking pictures for myself, friends and family, build my portfolio, and maybe attend some workshops! I’m having a ton of fun with the whole process, and I’m looking forward to learning more and improving. I’m doing a shoot with my friend and her boyfriend in a week or two and hopefully that goes well too ­čÖé

 

Overall, this weekend was a very exciting one, a very happy one, and I am so thankful for the life I have and the beautiful people in it. It was amazing to feel so supported by our friends and family when Sky and I announced our engagement, and the mutual excitement was contagious. It was great to see my family this weekend, to return to my childhood home and to bask in the familiarity of the chaos that is our reunions, their witty jokes, sibling banter, to enjoy each other’s company, to capture candid moments; to laugh and smile and love and feel so loved in return.

Sky and I also hosted our first Thanksgiving dinner with her family, and it was so lovely to be able to have her family over at our place and to host our first dinner! Sky did an amazing job cooking and there were many laughs, memories, and wedding ideas shared.

 

Now to use reading week to my advantage and get ahead on my assignments! and to write a few more blog posts to be posted at later dates!

love,

JC.

the life of WGS major

is the life of a student constantly defending their chosen discipline of study and fighting off the stereotype that they are an angry, hairy-legged lesbian (I mean I am… some days… most days?? but not the point…)

*WGS: women’s and gender studies 

But in all seriousness – it means so much more to me. I am thoroughly in love with my education. My professors are amazing and inspiring, and my readings each week offer new perspectives and critiques for me to consider and I am constantly challenged to not only think differently, but to live differently. Honestly, women’s and gender studies is making me a better person.

However amazing and transforming it may be though, it is also tough. Classes that seek to push you to analyze and critique every aspect of the society you grew up in and are currently living essentially ask you to question all you’ve ever known. And yes, it’s a good thing, because awareness is the first step in creating social change.

Yet, I find it very intense. I often get stuck in a thought spiral of introspection and self-reflexivity. This is usually a process that happens after every class, and sometimes, it is hard to dig my way out of that mindset. It’s a productive way to think, at first, in small doses – because I do reflect on where I can better myself – but it is also overwhelming when I can’t find my way out of that questioning.

My mind, after class, resembles something of a chaotic school of fish, each thought erratically zig-zagging, so fast I can’t even track it. I want to stick my hand in the water, grab a fish, grapple with it and shout who are you and what do you want from me? Maybe this metaphor makes no sense. I’m trying to articulate what is a very complicated headspace, and probably failing. But just writing this out is just as well.

I would like to digress from the very small, negative aspect of my major though. Because really, it isn’t negative, but how I handle it sometimes is. I am thankful that I leave class with a brain buzzing with questions. Learning to curve and control this, to draw boundaries for my own thinking, my overthinking, is something I am working on.

I am so excited by my academic career. Every minute in class solidifies where my passions and interests are and that this, academia, is what I want to pursue in life, if not just for the next several years. My professors bring fresh, energizing, and liberating ideas and perspectives to the class and provide a great foundation to build my own critical thinking from.

I have a lot of ideas, a lot of opinions, and having an education founded in feminism is teaching me that I am not the only one experiencing the issues I do; to question the status quo; to value experience as knowledge; to understand that life and oppression is never as simple as it appears; and best of all, that seeking to question, to understand, and create dialogue is how change is made and ideas are transformed to be inclusive, holistic and considerate of the diverse world we live in.

Feminism gives me hope. My education gives me hope. It gives me hope that as I arm myself with knowledge and awareness, I will be able to competently address bigger issues and work to revolutionize the world around me.

I’m sorry for all the cheese – but I finally feel like I’ve found my place, my “calling”, my career, and it feels pretty damn good.

Best,

JC

10 Things I’ve Learned as a Chronically Ill Student

University is hard. So is being chronically ill. (sidenote: prepare yourself for way too many cliches. i’ll be honest, my creativity is lacking today)

  1. People (including professors!) really do care. If you give them the information they need to help you succeed, and much ahead of time, they are almost always super accommodating.
  2. Speaking of accommodations – there is no shame in registering with accessibility services. They are there to make your life easier, and they will.
  3. Self care, especially in the middle of a chaotic semester or an illness flare-up, is about the basics. Food. Water. Rest. Repeat. Put your oxygen mask on first, folks, and you’ll be grateful for it.
  4. Slow down. If you have to drop a course or back out on a commitment, I promise, it is not the be-all-end-all. You have time. Give yourself breathing room in your every day routine. Slow and steady wins the race. Do whatever you need to do for you. It’ll be okay. You will get where you are going and there is no harm in taking the time to do so.
  5. You’re doing better than you think you are. We are often our own worst critics. I don’t know if this is true for all of you, but it definitely is for me. I’m learning to congratulate myself for sticking it out. Some days, for simply existing. One step at a time.
  6. Also – it’s okay to quit. It’s super helpful to know your limits. It is also super helpful to abide by them. I know there is so much pressure to be able to handle everything in your life and even to thrive on stress and chaos, but pushing yourself past your limits is not worth it. Know there is no shame in taking a break and putting your health first. Easier said than done, I know.
  7. Not everyone will understand. So maybe this is a completele contradiction to #1, but it’s true. There are few people who truly understand, or even are able to empathize with how you feel at your worst. Or even at your best, which I know, still probably isn’t great. Keep the people who “get it” close. If it is easier, get involved in the online spoonie community. It is full of wonderful, uplifting people.
  8. Plan ahead. But be reasonable. I know so many give the advice to get all you can done on your good days, so you are still ahead of the game or even just barely on top of all your assignments when your health takes a hit, but, be mindful. Yes, use your good days to your advantage. But don’t overdo it. You deserve and need time to relax, even when you feel good and just want to be productive while you can. Prioritize and stay organized, so you have one less thing to stress over.
  9. Ask for help. I’m still learning how to do this. I feel like I have to handle everything on my own, all the time, or I’m somehow failing as a human being. This is far from the truth. Utilize the resources available to you and lean on your friends and family when you need to.
  10. Allow yourself to be present. It can be so easy to get caught up in assignments and anxiety, about your health, about assignments, about anything and everything, but take a moment to just breathe, and acknowledge the present. Focus on what is good about where you are in that exact moment in time. Learn to notice the simple pleasures in life and celebrate the smallest of successes. Not every day is a good day, but all days have something good in them. Even if it’s just “hey, the sky is super pretty today!”

Ultimately, reflect on what is best for you and abide by it. You’ve got this.

Love and spoons,

JC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

welcome

Hello & Welcome ;

After many failed ideas and attempts at starting a blog, I recently have been re-inspired (with a touch of anger-fueled motivation) to put myself out into the blog-o-sphere. I’m centering my blog around my life as a university student, a feminist, a chronically ill individual, a lesbian, and ultimately, a writer.

Previously, I had thought I had to have a very narrow focus on my blog to write it. Maybe, this is the case, if I were creating this blog as a business endeavor. I am not. I am here to share my life and its complexities; my failures, my successes, my insights and to connect with others sharing similar experiences. I decided a strict theme blog isn’t for me. I want to share what I am passionate about, and I want to write about my life, with an emphasis on intersectionality and my personal experience as a person with many faces to their identity.

If you care to follow along, expect posts related to everything previously mentioned (feminism, academics, writing, disability, LGBTQIA+ issues etc) and what makes my life uniquely my own.

New posts once a week, every Monday!

To learn more about me, please visit my about page.

Best,

JC