College can be the best or worst four years of your life. While it's an open-minded environment that allows for exploration, college can also feel frightfully small and claustrophobic. I was lucky enough to go a college where sexual exploration was accepted and encouraged. But I still didn’t have a sense of myself; I didn’t identify as bisexual or come out until a year after I graduated.
Here’s some advice I wish I had while questioning my sexuality in college.
1. Be open with yourself. Really open.
I thought I was open during college. In many regards, I was. I was open to sexual exploration and new experiences. Unfortunately, I wasn’t open to completely altering my way of life. And that’s what happens when you explore and eventually discover your sexuality. The inevitable “Oh shit... I’m definitely not straight... What am I? How is this going to affect the rest of my life?” thought is terrifying. But once you're open to changing your life, you can discover who you truly are.
2. Don’t feel obligated to label yourself.
People love labels. People also love egg salad. Both can be awful. If you’re questioning your sexuality, don’t be ashamed to say you’re not sure. Don’t feel as if you need to pick a label to satisfy anyone else.
3. Educate yourself.
If your college offers a course on sexuality or gender, take it! If not, do research on your own. The reason for educating yourself is twofold. One: it’s good to learn more about sexuality and gender in order for you to better understand yourself. Two: you learn you are not alone. No matter how different your sexuality or gender may feel, there are others out there like you. Maybe not at your school, maybe not in your city, but they are out there somewhere.
4. Connect with others like you.
Before I started identifying and writing about male bisexuality, I knew zero bisexual men. Not even one. The few men I knew who identified as bisexual, soon after identified as gay, which led me to believe that I might actually be gay. Given the lack of male bisexuality in the media, I was genuinely not sure it existed. This is why the Internet exists: to connect people. If only I had used it to for that purpose instead of watching Netflix. I could have met and spoken to bisexual men who had similar thoughts, questions and experiences.
5. Explore without judging and over analyzing.
Explore. Explore. Explore. I can’t emphasize this enough. Exploring won’t, however, be beneficial to your self-discovery if you judge yourself for your actions. And, if you analyze everything to death, it can actually be detrimental. Deep breath. Stop thinking. Start doing.
6. Don’t regret anything you’ve done.
As you start to explore your gender and sexuality, you might find yourself doing new things. As long as you are safe, respectful to yourself and respectful to others, you have nothing to regret.
7. Take advantage of LGBT groups on campus.
Of course LGBT groups exist once you graduate, but it’s not always as simple to get involved. I would kill to have easy access to LGBT lectures, debates and support groups.
8. If you have consistent feelings, don’t ignore them.
Even if you can’t label it, don’t ignore it. I had a strong desire to hook up with men. I wasn’t sure why I was doing it. I knew I liked women. But I didn’t ignore the feeling, and I’m glad I didn’t. I would have been ignoring a huge part of my sexuality.
9. The confusion doesn’t last forever.
I know it’s Hell now. I know it consumes your every thought. I promise you, it doesn’t last forever. It may take longer than you would like, but you will figure out who you are. Do your best to enjoy the process and revel in the ambiguity.