What It Feels Like For A Girl

by Dian Reid-Jancic· Follow Dian on

When you open up your mouth to speak
could you be a little weak

When you’re trying hard to be your best
could you be a little less

~Madonna, What It Feels Like For A Girl

But it’s not just what it feels like for a girl. It’s what it feels like for a gay. For a lesbian. A bisexual or transgender or questioning person. This is what it felt like for me as I began what would become my coming out process.

What it feels like for a lesbian to come out of the closetThe question that’s in my head right now is, When did I know? I knew a lot of times. I knew when I was eight years old and missed the girl next door more than the boy down the street (who my mom thought I should marry, as she said back then). I knew when I was ten years old and my “best friend” stopped coming over because I didn’t put up my hand to block the kiss on the mouth when we played house one afternoon. I knew when everyone she knew wouldn’t hang out with me, but instead, pointed and laughed. I knew when I had a crush on Rose D— in 6th grade. And Lauren G— in 7th grade. I knew when I had a boyfriend in 8th grade because my friends set me up, feeling like I was a sad and lonely case for not having one like the rest of them. I knew when all I could think about in my high school graphic arts class was Jill S—. I knew when I was fascinated with my friend’s lesbian friend who came into town and I got to go to my first gay bar. I knew when I could not accept a marriage proposal from a man because being with a woman (any woman) was all I could think about. I knew when I first kissed a girl. I knew when I first wrapped my arms around a girl and smelled her hair, her neck, her skin. I knew when I first felt a woman brush up against my arm, graze my thigh, run her fingers lightly through my hair. I knew when I felt her lips on mine, I knew when she slipped my shirt over my head, I knew when I still had socks on and didn’t care.

The truth is that I knew a lot of the time, from the time I was eight years old. For years I felt like I spent a lot of time trying to un-know the fact that there was something different about me, but it was more that I simply wanted to be like everyone else; you know—normal. I wanted to be just like everyone else, while still being me. Which meant a lot of frustration at not being like everyone else, and still not being me.

As I tried to understand myself I was afraid. Afraid to ask questions because, What if it’s true, and ohgod! what if they find out?! Afraid to go in search of others like me because, What if someone SEES me?? And once I knew what I could no longer hide from myself, I was afraid to speak those words to anyone.

When you open up your mouth to speak / could you be a little weak… I felt weak in telling my best friend that if she wanted to be roommates, there was something she needed to know about me. I felt weak in telling my boss that the reason I’d been all over the place and unfocused at work was because I’d met someone new and had no one to talk about what was going on inside. I felt weak in opening up my mouth to tell my father that the girl who came to my softball games every week was not just my friend. I felt weak when trying to defend myself of my father’s suggestion that I’d go to hell for these choices in my life. I felt weak when declining a date with a coworker because I had a g—was already involved. I felt weak when telling the grocery checkout clerk, no, she’s not my sister, and leaving it at that. I felt a little weak, it seemed, whenever I opened up my mouth to speak.

Once I got comfortable enough to speak through the weakness, I gained a little strength. I could speak in spurts, with a small group of confidantes, and began to wonder if it wasn’t really okay to just be who I was. My whole life I’d been told to just do and be my best. Like in many other areas of my life, my best was ambiguous around my sexuality, and I had no concept of what it was to do or be my best. Not knowing what it was, I couldn’t help but feel less than my best.

When you’re trying hard to be your best / could you be a little less... I felt like I was always less, especially when it came to my sexuality. I wasn’t what my father had dreamed of. I wasn’t going to be a mother or a wife or give him grandchildren the way he’d always dreamed of. I was trying hard to be my best, but I felt the strain of being less than his best. Until I realized I was trying hard to be his best, and had actually felt the strain of being less than my best.

I don’t know what it feels like to be someone other than who I am; I only know what it’s like to try. Trying to be someone I’m not is like the moment after exiting that spinning ride at a carnival: slightly nauseating and completely disorienting. For me, that’s what it felt like to try and be heterosexual a lot of the time. Once I would get my bearings, I would somehow end up back on the ride, completely nauseated, slightly disoriented—always some variation of the two, no matter how hard I tried to make like it was a fun ride.

In the years since that realization (sometime in my 20’s to sometime in my 30’s), I’ve been in search of what my best actually is. She constantly changes, because she’s constantly evolving and growing. My best, where my sexuality is concerned, seems to be the same as any other piece of me, though: be your authentic you, Dian. Nothing more, nothing less.

  • andreaowen

    I love this. Absolutely beautiful 🙂

  • andreaowen

    I love this. Absolutely beautiful 🙂

  • andreaowen

    I love this. Absolutely beautiful 🙂

  • andreaowen

    I love this. Absolutely beautiful 🙂

  • isaokato

    Thank you for an incredibly encouraging, sensible yet strong story. This is my take: Write who you are. For a long time I haven't written or talked about my personal life. I thought it was because I had nothing interesting to say. Now I realize it was because I haven't come to terms with some memories. It is fear, and it lurks in my everyday life, or even in my writing. Fear controls my behavior, preventing me from seeing who I really am and living an authentic version of my life. I'm going to challenge my fear, step by step.

  • Thank you, Andrea =)

  • Thank you, Andrea =)

  • I had a conversation with a friend not to long ago, where she referred to fear as the puppeteer that rests up high and dictates what we do in our lives. I think it's absolutely important to challenge our fears and live that authentic version of your life, as you say. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • I had a conversation with a friend not to long ago, where she referred to fear as the puppeteer that rests up high and dictates what we do in our lives. I think it's absolutely important to challenge our fears and live that authentic version of your life, as you say. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • AlanaSheeren

    “Until I realized I was trying hard to be his best, and had actually felt the strain of being less than my best.”
    This is profound and speaks to me on such a deep level. Every time you are your authentic you on this page and I am lucky enough to witness it, I am changed.

  • Oh there are SO many times I've felt a little weak when I opened my mouth to speak!!

    I'm so glad you had (and have) the inner awareness to notice this: “Trying to be someone I’m not is like the moment after exiting that spinning ride at a carnival: slightly nauseating and completely disorienting.”

    And so glad you trusted what you knew!

    And even more glad that you share with us (your readers) and encourage us to be our best (and authentic!) selves!!

  • This is so beautiful, raw and authentic, Dian. Congratulations! May we all succeed in simply being our true selves without apology, shame, hesitation, or diminishment.

  • Pingback: You Are More Beautiful Than You Think [Dian Reid] Authentic Realities()

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