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It Gets Better

Updated: Jun 14, 2022

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

It gets better. It got better. Even for me, someone who thought it was possible for everyone else but me.


I know that I may be considered lucky. My home was neither very religious nor openly homophobic. However, the possibility of being any other sexuality was just so foreign a concept that I neither had the courage nor the confidence to explore.


I grew up carrying the heavy unspoken expectations of those who came before me; to be a well-behaved filial daughter, to work in a respectable profession (either medicine or law), to get married by 30, to have two children (preferably a girl and a boy), to take care of and respect my elders, and to live a quiet uneventful life. While that may have been desirable for some, I realized from a young age that I was simply born different. And I could not sit still, I was born to make waves.


Perhaps, subconsciously, that was the reason why I decided to fly halfway around the world, to start anew.


 

A letter to my younger self


Jenn,


The transformation will begin when you wake up one day and suddenly decide to push yourself out of your comfort zone. You will meet someone who, for the first time in your life, will make you toy with the idea of getting married. You will find someone you want to spend the rest of your life with. And that person is going to be a woman. You might be a bit worried because up until that time, you've had schoolgirl crushes, but this will be different. You will be flabbergasted by such intense affection and love for this person. Basically, falling for her will solidify any shred of doubt that you had about whether or not you could sacrifice your true self in order to abide by the role of a traditional Chinese daughter and make your family happy. Somehow, you will throw all your self-doubt and fear away to actively pursue her (with reckless abandon and flamboyant flair). Being near her will feel euphoric. In hindsight, you'll realize that this was pretty self-destructive but that relationship, while it will end in one of the most painful heartbreaks ever, will help you realize and accept your identity and start you on a path of embracing who you are for the first time in your life.


Oh geez...and you will come out to mom one unexpected day through Skype (while there is no "right" way to come out, there are definitely "better" ways and Skype is NOT one that I can recommend). When mom asks you an innocent question, suddenly, years and years of suppressed fear and shame will come spilling out. Remember to breathe in between sobs.


You and mom won't speak for the next year or so and it will be so painful. You will be consumed with guilt because you know that she is halfway around the world trying to make sense of all this. You will feel shame for abandoning her with this news. But keep sending her messages to tell her that you love her, and you are still always thinking of her. Apologize to her because she is alone on this journey and because, as I said, you told her through SKYPE. Not cool.


But do NOT apologize for coming out because

You will realize through this experience that it is easier to work to save a relationship with someone than it is to never address the relationship you have with yourself.


Be patient and give mom time. She will surprise you one day and tell you that she wants you to be happy. From then, the little seed of confidence that had laid dormant all your life will finally break the earth and bloom. You will stop walking around feeling sorry for being who you are. You will stop caring whether people find out or judge you. You'll stop double-checking what you say or how you act. The exhaustion of living a lie will fade and you'll finally start waking up looking forward to the possibilities of the coming day!


You know that feeling when you are constipated for longer than you'd like to admit. The uncomfortable bloated feeling that you get. It feels like you're carrying around years of shit in your body and it just keeps growing and growing and you have the fleeting thought every now and then that one day, all that shit is either going to poison you from the inside out or you'll explode and die.

That's what staying in the closet, for you, at least, feels like. Imagine taking a huge dump and getting rid of all that! Imagine how light and easy it would feel to move around. That's what it felt like. Look forward to taking that bathroom break!

To you, to her, to anyone who needs to hear this,

Fall in love.

Lean into whatever proclivities float your boat. Be curious about it.

Love as deeply and passionately as you can. There will be pain but there will be so much joy as well.

Take small steps but occasionally, take the step that fills you with dread and fear because that step will bring you closer to yourself.

Listen to your heart and no one else.


With Love,


Jenn (of the future)


P.S.

Always, always be grateful to mom. Sometimes, it's still a difficult process for her to understand but she is always trying her best to accept you. Be kind, loving, and grateful to your family.






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