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Freedom: The Power of Being You

Freedom to be you

Finding yourself in a world that is forever sending us mixed signals

Yes, it's a cliche, but no, I will never stop talking about this. In a world that preaches acceptance and encourages you to be you, yet seems to undermine you, how can someone be their true authentic self? Whilst this isn't a self-help guide, it is at the very least, an opportunity to reflect. I am by no means a guru that can solve all your problems. But what I am, is someone who has spent a lot of time, especially recently, redefining who I am and what it means, for me, to be a pansexual man in a world that isn't always the most welcoming.

For a long time, I refused to acknowledge my sexuality for what it really is. Being teased, and continually being called gay throughout my time in high school, I grew to hate everything that word stood for. Nothing about the word gave me pride or happiness. I, like so many, refused to really acknowledge that part of me. I had my first girlfriend in my final year of high school, and I can say that I genuinely cared for her but that didn't stop the teasing. We broke up halfway through our first year of university.

Here comes university

Everyone knows that when you go to university, you’ll do some reinventing. I was no different. I took the chance to become more comfortable with the part of me that I had pushed aside for such a long time. I didn't necessarily act on these feelings straight away, but I sat with my feelings and encourage you to do the same. I sat and thought about the type of people I found attractive. I learned that the gender of the person wasn't really the main draw. For me, the person was more important. Are they being authentic? Are they showing me their passions? Could I see myself being unequivocally me? If the answers to these were yes, then I thought about how they made me feel. More often than not with someone I liked, I was flustered in some way which wasn't me. Being someone who is perceived to be calm and in control there was a definite change. Once I began to understand myself more, I began to put myself out there. It was terrifying and there isn't really a way around this especially if you show someone who you are, and you're rejected.

But as time went on and I was becoming comfortable with myself and better understood different labels for sexuality, I decided to not focus so much on the label (identity stress) but explore my sexuality more physically. From these experiences, I ended up finding the label that works for me but also that hookup culture wasn't for me. Finding a more meaningful and deeper connection was what I valued. Now of course there is no shame in a hookup, as long as it's safe, but for some people, this is a nightmare scenario and that's totally okay! There are plenty of ways to still find an identity that matches how you truly feel. My time at university allowed me to explore who I was in a safe space. I needed a space that gave me that freedom. I discovered how to be unapologetically me. Did it come with stress, anxiety, and the occasional meltdown? Oh, you bet it did. But that's okay.

The unexpected joy

I have been lucky enough to find the love of my life and we're about to celebrate two years. Now roll your eyes if you want, but this is where some of my greatest moments of reflection come from. I have always been career driven, laser-focused on what I was doing, often leading to burnout. My friends and family have always been supportive, but they never saw the full picture. That was until I fell hopelessly in love with my best friend. For the next couple of months, my life became one walking rom-com. During this time, I learned to value my time with others and truly focus on the moment. I was always somewhere, thinking of the next job or assignment that I needed to get. With him, however, everything was still, and I finally felt at peace, and I could somewhat settle. I asked him out. I took a chance that I was terrified to take because he meant the world to me, and I would hate to lose his friendship. He had never thought too much about his sexuality. He presumed he was straight and that was that. When I asked him out, his genuine response was 'Sure,' just like that. Talking to him more the longer we were together, he explained that the thought of us together made sense. For me, I didn't understand, I thought there had to be some sort of magically whimsical feeling in your tummy and that told you everything you needed to know.

Throughout our relationship, I have learned so much more about myself and what it means to define yourself in terms of sexuality. The label only carries so much meaning. For some, it's liberating. For others, myself included, it doesn't really mean a lot. I love a man (I always call him my boy) but that is only a small part of my identity and his. I love him and he has unequivocally supported me and that's it. So, where do these moments of reflection come in you may be wondering? Well, think about all the people you've found attractive. Do you just admire them? Or is there something else under that admiration? Sit on those feelings and try and figure that out, it's not easy and it might be incredibly confusing but that's okay. In a world that wants you to fit the mould, do your best to break it. Trust me, it's so worth it.


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