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!
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.
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?
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.
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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