On coming out and the ‘Impostor Syndrome’

By Bongi Sibanda

A little positivity to begin

If there ever was a contest for negative thinking, and making up weird negative shit, my brain would be a phenomenal contender. As I write this, I am fighting the impulse to close this page and try something that does not make my body feel uncomfortable. Something like, say, playing a game on my phone. But guess what? I can do this!

Introductions

I am a Zimbabwean woman in her early twenties. I am in the process of figuring myself out, defining myself, learning how to love myself and be comfortable with the self I define myself to be*.

Last year, I discovered that I enjoy having sex with women, and people with bodies like mine. I discovered that I could have intense feelings for a person who is not a man. That my heart could break and yearn for someone who is not a man. This shouldn’t really be a big deal, but for me it was. I had never thought of myself in this way and wrapping my mind around this proved to be difficult. Did this mean I was gay? My anxious mind wanted to understand. This is still a question I am asking myself, even as I find myself yearning to hold boobs, lick them, bite them and explore someone’s vagina while having them touch mine. My mind tells me that I can’t possibly be gay. The narratives that most gay people have, or the one that I hear the most, is that they knew from an early age. This was not the case for me. I was perfectly happy thinking of myself as a heterosexual. It never occurred to me to explore other ways of loving others.

Coming Out

This January, I came out to my family, and they took it really well. It only mattered to my mother that I was happy and that I felt safe and loved. Her advice was, “My child, this life you are choosing is going to be hard. You now have to be rich to make it easier.” I felt like a load had been taken off my back.

Feeling Like An Impostor

Change is always difficult. Relating to the world as a queer is not easy. Relating to the world as a person who just is and doesn’t necessarily prescribe to any label yet is difficult. I always find myself wishing I was a lesbian through and through, but I do not think that this label is for me. This process is all new and lonely. I do not see a lot of people around me with a similar story. I know it is still early so I should be patient, but the people I have found have stories different from mine. I learn from them of course, but because my mind has a way of finding ways of invalidating me it would be nice if there was someone with a story similar to mine. I feel so much like an impostor. I feel like I went to America and got “corrupted”. This is stupid, something doesn’t have to be true or sensible for a brain to believe nor assert it as truth. I feel like I am making all this up, and that it is a phase, which it may as well be, but that shouldn’t stop it from being valid right?

Right.

But, I still struggle with thoughts that I am a fraud and that I am only in this because I like the gay lifestyle.  I do not know if these thoughts will ever go away, but they sure do have a way of keeping me from fully exploring myself, and presenting my most current “authentic” self to the world.

You can read more of Bongi’s writing on her blog I Write Most When I Am Sad and reach out to her via email at confusedandlovingit@gmail.com

For more pieces on identity figuring out and coming out check out this piece Things I wish I had told you before you came out, this one that gives tips on coming out and this one about how the closet is not your friend.

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