You are 12. You’re at the library looking for some generic young adult fiction novel about a girl who falls for her best friend. Your dad makes a disgusted face. “This is about lesbians,” he says. The word falls out of his mouth as though it pains him. You check out a different book and cry when you get home, but you aren’t sure why. You learn that this is not a story about you, and if it is, you are disgusting.
You are 15. Your relatives are fawning over your cousin’s new boyfriend. “When will you have a boyfriend?” they ask. You shrug. “Maybe she’s one of those lesbians,” your grandpa says. You don’t say anything. You learn that to find love and acceptance from your family, you need a boyfriend who thinks you are worthy of love and acceptance.
You are 18. Your first boyfriend demands to know why you never want to have sex with him. He tells you that sex is normal and healthy. You learn that something is wrong with you.
You are 13. You’re at a pool party with a relative’s friend’s daughter. “There’s this lesbian in my gym class. It’s so gross,” she says. “Ugh, that’s disgusting,” another girl adds. They ask you, “do you have any lesbians at your school?” You tell them no and they say you are lucky. You learn to stay away from people.
You are 20. You have coffee with a girl and you can’t stop thinking about her for days afterwards. You learn the difference between a new friendship and new feelings for a person.
You are 13. Your mom is watching a movie. You see two girls kiss on screen. You feel butterflies and this sense that you identify with the girls on the screen. Your mom gets up and covers the screen. You learn that if you are like those girls, no one wants to see it.
You are 20. You and your friends are drunk and your ex-boyfriend dares you to make out with your friend. You both agree. You touch her face. It feels soft and warm. Her lips are small and her hands feel soft on your back. You learn the difference between being attracted to someone and recognizing that someone you care about is attractive.
You are 16. You find lesbian porn online. Their eyes look dead and their bodies are positioned in a way that you had never imagined. You learn that liking girls is acceptable if straight men can decide the terms.
You are 20. You are lying next to a beautiful girl and talking about everything. You tell her things that you don’t usually tell anyone. You learn how it feels not to want to go to sleep because you don’t want to miss out on any time with someone.
You are 15. Your parents are talking about a celebrity. Your dad has a grin on his face and says, “her girlfriend says that she’s having the best sex of her life with her!” You learn that being a lesbian is about the kind of sex you have and not how you love.
You are 18. You are in intro to women’s and gender studies. “Not all feminists are lesbians- I love my husband! Most of the feminists on our leadership team are straight! It’s just a stereotype,” the professor exclaims. You learn that lesbianism is something to separate yourself from.
You are 21 and you are kissing a beautiful girl and she’s your girlfriend and you understand why people write songs and make movies and stupid facebook statuses about this and time around you just seems to stop and you could spend forever like this and you learn that there is nothing wrong with you and you are falling in love.
You are 21. And you are okay.
- push yourself to get up before the rest of the world - start with 7am, then 6am, then 5:30am. go to the nearest hill with a big coat and a scarf and watch the sun rise.
2. push yourself to fall asleep earlier - start with 11pm, then 10pm, then 9pm. wake up in the morning feeling re-energized and comfortable.
3. get into the habit of cooking yourself a beautiful breakfast. fry tomatoes and mushrooms in real butter and garlic, fry an egg, slice up a fresh avocado and squirt way too much lemon on it. sit and eat it and do nothing else.
4. stretch. start by reaching for the sky as hard as you can, then trying to touch your toes. roll your head. stretch your fingers. stretch everything.
5. buy a 1L water bottle. start with pushing yourself to drink the whole thing in a day, then try drinking it twice.
6. buy a beautiful diary and a beautiful black pen. write down everything you do, including dinner dates, appointments, assignments, coffees, what you need to do that day. no detail is too small.
7. strip your bed of your sheets and empty your underwear draw into the washing machine. put a massive scoop of scented fabric softener in there and wash. make your bed in full.
8. organise your room. fold all your clothes (and bag what you don’t want), clean your mirror, your laptop, vacuum the floor. light a beautiful candle.
9. have a luxurious shower with your favourite music playing. wash your hair, scrub your body, brush your teeth. lather your whole body in moisturiser, get familiar with the part between your toes, your inner thighs, the back of your neck.
10. push yourself to go for a walk. take your headphones, go to the beach and walk. smile at strangers walking the other way and be surprised how many smile back. bring your dog and observe the dog’s behaviour. realise you can learn from your dog.
11. message old friends with personal jokes. reminisce. suggest a catch up soon, even if you don’t follow through. push yourself to follow through.
13. think long and hard about what interests you. crime? sex? boarding school? long-forgotten romance etiquette? find a book about it and read it. there is a book about literally everything.
14. become the person you would ideally fall in love with. let cars merge into your lane when driving. pay double for parking tickets and leave a second one in the machine. stick your tongue out at babies. compliment people on their cute clothes. challenge yourself to not ridicule anyone for a whole day. then two. then a week. walk with a straight posture. look people in the eye. ask people about their story. talk to acquaintances so they become friends.
15. lie in the sunshine. daydream about the life you would lead if failure wasn’t a thing. open your eyes. take small steps to make it happen for you.