Clara, 21, shares her advice for looking after your mental health during Pride Month if you're questioning your identity and don't know where you fit in.
Pride Month is such a beautiful and important landmark for the LGBTQIA+ community. It represents a positive space for expression, self-discovery and learning, providing a sense of community and solidarity. In that sense, it is absolutely necessary that we celebrate it! However, with all the weight and symbolism it carries, June can easily become an overwhelming time if you’re not quite sure where you fit in.
Although this is hard to admit, this time of the year awakens mixed feelings and even some anxiety within me. I have recently started questioning my sexuality, but I am still too scared to embrace a label. For that reason, I started feeling as if I do not fit anywhere. As time went by, my doubts grew bigger, and I developed a terrible habit of invalidating myself: “Am I queer enough? I never dated a woman/ non-binary person so I must be straight.”
I am still too scared to embrace a label. For that reason, I started feeling as if I do not fit anywhere.
When June came around, I wasn’t sure if I should celebrate it as an ally, or as a member of the community. The anxiety around this topic got debilitating to the point that I didn’t feel the right to celebrate Pride Month at all - or even speak on the matter. The fear of having to prove myself to others just wouldn’t leave my mind.
Fortunately, I shared some of these worries with a friend, who also happens to be a member of the community. They explained how common it is to struggle with discovering yourself, and how it takes years for some people to find answers. This soothed my worries, as I realised that it is okay to not have a label. I should not have to pressure myself to find a title so that others understand me better.
I realised that it is okay to not have a label. I should not have to pressure myself to find a title so that others understand me better.
It's okay to take a break if you have information overload
During this time, there is also a constant overflow of information. The fight for LGBTQIA+ rights and the overall spread of awareness of the community’s struggles are at an all-time high. Every day important dialogues are happening, but with them, an increased exposure to hate speech, as well as hate crimes; we remember victims of discrimination and hear traumatic testimonies; we see some businesses taking advantage and profiting off queer culture… It is a lot.
Now, obviously, it is fundamental to have these discussions and to listen to the stories of those who suffer at the hands of discrimination. However, due to social media, it is difficult to filter the type and amount of information we are presented with daily. I often find myself overwhelmed with this reality. Sometimes, it causes me to experience severe anxiety over all that is happening, as I have little control over it. On top of that, I feel guilty when I distance myself from such important issues.
Due to social media, it is difficult to filter the type and amount of information we are presented with daily.
Once again, after talking with some friends, I came to realise how lots of people feel the same way. The guilt around not doing enough is normal, but it is important to remind ourselves that we can’t fix everything in a day.
Tips on how to cope
If you are struggling to cope with the feelings it brings up, remember that you are not alone and there is always help available. Here are some things you can try to feel better:
Pride is about community, so reach out to someone
Every time I have opened up to queer people about struggling with my sexuality, I was met with empathy and understanding. Sometimes they could even relate to my experiences, which was validating.
Remember you don't owe anyone a label
Although it might not feel like it, you have no obligation to prove yourself to anyone. You are entitled to space and time to discover yourself.
Try to limit your social media usage
Setting a time limit on social media apps can be helpful. There is only so much you can process in a day, so logging off after some time is a great way to ground yourself.
Make time for unrelated activities
Hanging out with friends, reading, going to the gym… It’s okay to just have fun sometimes and give yourself a break.
Ultimately though Pride Month is a time for love and celebration, and an important reminder to be proud of who you are.
You are entitled to space and time to discover yourself.
More information and advice
We have tips and advice to help you find the support you need. Take a look at our guides.
Where to get help
However you're feeling, there are people who can help you if you are struggling. Here are some services that can support you.
Supports and provides information for transgender and gender-diverse young people (up to and including the age of 19).
Free webchat service available.
- Opening times:
- 9am - 9pm, Monday - Friday