Skeleton Faces and Coming Out: How I’m Learning that Confidence and Insecurities Can Live Side by Side

This past month has been weird, to say the least. My face got turned into half of a skull, I visited my friend Tricia in the hospital three hours away, I’ve been sick with a flu-sinus-infection hybrid, AND I came out as nonbinary to my parents.

Let’s start with the half-skull. Now, I love being queer—I think it is an important part of me and has introduced me to a wonderful and diverse community. What I do not love about being queer is that everyone wants to hang out at the gay bar. Bars aren’t really my scene. I like to go to bed around 11 p.m., and a lot of times, nights at the bar don’t end until 2 a.m. I’m the first to admit that I’m an old person, but I like my regular sleep schedule! (Where are the gay coffee shops? Gay bookstores?)IMG_9392

That being said, every once in a while, something will convince me to go out late. This time, it was a Harry Potter-themed drag show. That’s right. HARRY POTTER. I know it’s cliché to love Harry Potter, but I do and I’m not ashamed! A few of my friends would be performing, and of course I wanted to support them, but I also probably would have gone anyway. (It was cool to hang out with Lucius Malfoy and Sirius Black, though…)

Another thing you should know about me is that I am the definition of a lightweight. I don’t drink that often, and when I do, it only takes one drink for me to feel the effects. So I had a beer in me that night, and this somehow meant that I thought it was a good idea to put purple gel in my hair and have a friend of a friend paint a skull on half of my face. Don’t get me wrong, I looked AWESOME, but I realized when I got back at 1:30 a.m. that I would have to shower so I wouldn’t get my pillow all dirty. Ugh… all I wanted to do was collapse into bed and complain silently about the person bouncing a basketball in the apartment above me.

Fortunately, the skull-face got lots of compliments and distracted from the two glaring zits on my forehead. No one was looking at my zits, and I realized that, even if I didn’t have a skull painted onto my face, no one would really care that I had zits, anyway. So why should I? It’s okay to be insecure about them, but I wanted to spend the night being proud of my identity and my community and my friends. I didn’t want to be focused on my zits. And guess what? It’s easier to do than one would think. I still didn’t dance much, but I had fun in my own way—and I didn’t have to have perfectly clear skin to do it.

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I’m not going to spend a lot of time talking about my visit with Tricia because I don’t want to tell a story that’s not mine to tell. Tricia has a serious illness and it’s been way too long since I’ve visited her, so I’m glad I went. But I thought I was getting sick before I went to visit her, so I chugged some Emergen-C and didn’t get sick until after the visit. Taking the precautions not to get Tricia sick is actually what made me insecure at the hospital. I didn’t want to hug Tricia—just in case—but I also felt like I needed to apologize about it. What’s up with that? I shouldn’t apologize for keeping a friend safe.

I also tend to have bursts of quietness and bursts of talkativeness, especially when I’m tired, and I tried not to overthink my interactions too much. I’m trying to become more comfortable with my own rhythms, not just when I’m alone, but also when I’m with other people. I don’t feel comfortable falling asleep on top of someone else’s legs or playing my ukulele for a bunch of people in a hospital like the other two friends I went with, but I’m learning to feel comfortable being the observer who occasionally interjects. My fear of the awkwardness of the social situation at the hospital has been what has keptIMG_9405 me away, but I don’t want that fear to rule my life, especially when I want to hang out with someone cool and fun. So, yes, it was awkward at times. Yes, I didn’t know how to react in a lot of situations. And yes, I spent a lot of time overthinking what I was doing, how I was sitting, and what I was saying. But I went. I visited. I participated. I laughed and sang and loved and talked about my feelings and enjoyed my friends. I did all of this even though I was insecure about certain parts of myself.

Since that visit, which was a week and a half ago, I’ve been sick. It started off with the flu, and it has morphed into a sinus infection. Whoopee. I’m feeling much better today, though my ears and nose are still pretty stuffed up, hence why I am able to write. I’ve spent a lot of my time watching TV, zoning out during conversations, trying not to sleep in class, and reading sub-par books that don’t take much thought.

But I had a plan: over spring break, I would tell my parents I am trans/nonbinary. I wrote out a letter—which ended up being a good thing because I lost my voice for a few days—and set a date for coming out. This is another thing I don’t want to go into too much detail about, but I do want to say that coming out was not easy. My parents love me and are going to make an effort, but the initial reaction was hard to stomach. There was a lot of crying and then a lot of hugging and then a lot of blowing my nose—sinus infections nbflag8plus crying are a bad idea.

Honestly, I was so tired that day that I barely remember the second half of it. Then the next few days, my anxiety hit me like a tsunami. That Hydra monster reared all of its heads until I could barely focus on reading my book, which I was enjoying. But I realized that my anxiety meant my illness was getting better. It meant my body was returning to healthiness, and it meant that I could finally think about the consequences of coming out. Namely, I can be myself now. I can be Ryn, even if my parents don’t call me that yet, and I can be proud and confident in who I am. Keeping this a secret from my parents—two of the most important people in my life—has held me back from fully accepting my identity as nonbinary. But now I feel free to embrace this body that I’m in, and also to embrace the things I would like to change about it to lessen my dysphoria. I am proud to be a part of the nonbinary community and confident that this is my true identity. Sure, I’m insecure about whether people will take me seriously and use my pronouns, and I’m insecure about how people read me when I walk down the street, but I know who I am and so do the important people in my life.

I am proud of my zits. I am proud of my awkwardness. I am proud of my gender identity. Because these things make me who I am, and in the long run, these insecurities will only ever make me more confident in myself.

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