Our loved ones will not always be ready to see us the ways we are, the ways we want to be seen. And, honestly, this sucks. Bad. Like… it brings up deep, deep grief. And we might lose people along the way– more grief.
That said, we deserve to be celebrated, treasured, and affirmed. We need and want people and spaces that do see us and love us wholly.
My coming out journey has been complicated. There are people who are near and dear to me who are not ready to know some parts of me, and there are people I don’t yet feel ready or safe to fully “invite in” for various reasons.
There are changes and transformations I have stepped into this year that are BIG. It’s been scary as hell, AND it’s been true. There are parts of me that I am seeing and celebrating for the first time. Furthermore, there are parts that I want others to see and know. Because these parts are me!
I’ve been trying out different pronouns and exploring gender in ways I never have before. I am living into my queerness in new ways. I’m using the names Court and Courtney interchangeably. And while all of this comes with joy and excitement and a sense of celebration, it is complex. There are significant layers of grief and loss, both internal and external.
Over the past several months, I have been navigating how to care for the parts of me that want and need to be seen, even when it’s not easy, or safe, or welcome.
Whatever you are going through, whatever beauty you are creating, your journey is valid and important. And you deserve to be seen!
(This disclaimer is inspired by and borrowed from Patrick Turbiville.) This article is intended to speak to a wide range of young people; however, some may find that they don’t identify with it. One reason this blog might not reflect the experience of some teens and young adults is that it explores somewhat typical challenges faced by young people and their parents. It’s an unfortunate truth that young people of all backgrounds may experience abuse by their parents.
If this describes you, then it won’t make much sense (and may even harm you) to try to develop empathy for a parent whose harsher moments include physical or emotional abuse. If this describes you, please talk about it with an adult you trust. This can be a teacher, coach, counselor, or relative (but it doesn’t have to be–trust your instincts). Doing so may be difficult but could also help to get you on a path toward feeling safer, more confident, and more hopeful about the future.
How to Care for the Parts of You That Want and Need to Be Seen
- Find community. Spend time with the folks who honor the parts of you that are ready to be seen and celebrated. And if you don’t have these people YET, do your best to encourage yourself to stay open to meeting them (IRL and/or online). When you are with people that feel safe, ask for the affirmations you need. Return to the people and spaces that affirm you and that hold space for you to be who you are.
- Cultivate rituals that help you honor yourself. Do the seemingly small things that make YOU feel good about YOU. Ideas can include: spending moments in the mirror appreciating yourself, dressing in ways that you enjoy, journaling, feeding yourself foods that taste and feel good, and practicing affirmations that uplift you.
- Trust your sense of safety. If there are people or places that don’t feel safe (emotionally, physically, or any other way), trust yourself. You are not obligated to show all of the parts of yourself to anyone. As much as possible, keep distance from the people and places that are unsafe, and/or create safety plans for navigating the relationships you still need to be involved in. If you are in a situation that feel
- Honor your boundaries. Based on your readiness and your sense of safety, you can create boundaries that serve and protect you. Check out this beautiful post about boundaries.
- Grieve. Grieve. Grieve. You will need the time and space to feel all the feelings. To name the losses you are experiencing. Perhaps it’s the loss of a version of yourself, or the loss of a relationship, or the loss of a belonging in a certain space, and so on. angela e. morris’ IG account offers tons of food for thought on the topic of grief.
- Give them space to process. When we change, we are asking other people to adjust too. And they simply may not be ready. Invite yourself to practice not taking things personally and acknowledge that other people having a hard time seeing you is about THEM and what they are going through. (I know, I know… This is so much easier said than done.) In this process, return to your sense of safety and boundaries and proceed from there.
Here with You
I’m just a human, humaning alongside you, sharing some of the tools that have been helpful along my journey. YOU are the expert in your life, so, as always, I invite you to take what works, leave the rest, and edit these ideas to fit your unique circumstances and needs.
If you’re a teen or young adult who wants support along your journey, reach out, I’m here to be a witness. If you’re a parent of a young person who is looking to make some shifts, I’m here to support. Reach out anytime!