As members of the LGBTQ+ community, we fall victim to holding ourselves back, because, well, it’s what we’ve been taught to do from an early age.
Don’t let people think you’re different.
Dilute your personality.
Don’t stand out.
We, subconsciously or consciously, often don’t put ourselves out there for the same opportunities that our cis-gender heterosexual counterparts do, because we don’t think we can. Or because we are scared. We spend our formative years molding ourselves into the perfect balance of who we truly are, and who society lets us be. Sure, you grow personally, sexually and socially the same as everyone else does, but your growth is limited. You can only grow as big as the heteronormative bubble that surrounds you, and within it you find happiness.
The idea of leaving this perfectly sculpted reality is daunting, and it’s no shame to admit. Every time I start a new job I question how I will tell my colleagues I’m gay, or if there will be someone there who doesn’t like it. Maybe they’ll just assume? Personally, I’m fortunate in having the chutzpah to ignore those feelings and take joy in pointing out bigotry in others, but for some this fear of stepping straight into cloudy water with no absolute certainty of how you will be received is enough to put them off ever daring to live outside of the bubble.
And it shouldn’t be.
You know your friends, you know your city, you know your place in the world, and it might seem easy to stay at home and never ever think of studying abroad. Being a part of a Higher Education institution surrounded by other open-minded intellectuals, you will have probably come to peace with who you are and you are, maybe for the first time, genuinely happy. Why leave that?
Because you’ve become comfortable.
And you should never become comfortable.
If you become comfortable inside this bubble, and comfortable with not going for exactly the same opportunities as the straight norm because you are now finally feeling like the straight norm have felt their entire lives – that you have a place, that you’re happy, that you are at peace with yourself – then you are allowing yourself to be scared into a corner that the norm have kindly carved out for you.
There is a whole world to see, full of people and cultures who will love you.
And guess what? Your friends and your city will be there for you when you get back. And they’ll have missed you.
You owe it to yourself to never let a fear that was never your fault, or your choice, stop you from doing amazing things.
The opportunities for our generation, LGBTQ+ or not, are ripe, and it’s our duty to let nothing stop us from seizing them with both hands.