“Withholding distorts reality. It makes the people who do the withholding ugly and small-hearted. It makes the people from whom things are withheld crazy and desperate and incapable of knowing what they actually feel.
So release yourself from that. Don't be strategic or coy. Strategic and coy are for jackasses. Be brave. Be authentic. Practice saying the word "love" to the people you love so when it matters the most to say it, you will.” — Cheryl Strayed
At Buffer we're known for leaving no secrets, nothing covered, and share everything from our salaries to revenue to even emails. This week marked my year anniversary at Buffer, over which I've learned more about myself than I could have ever imagined. I've laughed, I've cried, I've moved, I've fallen, and I've gotten right back up.
I've learned how strong transparency is, how much it affects relationships; external and internal.
This week isn't just marking my year anniversary working alongside some of the greatest, most inspirational people I know. It also marks my 21st year alive.
Yet, somehow over the course of the past 21 years, I've never been entirely transparent. I've never been 100% clear about who I am, not fully at least. There's always been that one thing I've never really been open about.
It's something that I've never said in public. Something that's held me back, not only from being myself but from acting on my own feelings. It's something I've hidden, called 'not important', and even planned on ignoring for my entire life.
But it isn't something I can leave unsaid. It isn't something I'm braver to hide than face. It isn't something I can grow past. That thing, as I'm sure you can guess, is that I'm gay. Not newly, but always and forever.
While I'm sure this has been clear to everyone around me, my parents (hi mom and dad!), my friends, my family. It's never been something I've actually come out and said.
I was born and raised in Kentucky by a family who's always had strong, Christian beliefs. The goals were always to grow up, find a wife, have children and go about my life as any "normal" person would.
That word is important. Normal. I think I was always under the impression that if I didn't do those things that I wouldn't be normal, that I wouldn't grow up to a happy life, and that I'd always be looked at as the odd man out.
Growing up, my parents always had their set of TV shows. The shows they watched each week and recorded on VHS when they'd be missing. One of those shows, that I can't quite remember now, they stopped watching. I remember asking my mom about it and she'd responded that she couldn't stand the gay couple kissing in the show. I remember the comments my parents, their friends and the environment around me pressed into my head.. What the couple in that show were doing was wrong. Who I was, was wrong.
Like many people, I grew up around things like homo, faggot, cocksucker, and a variety of others. Year after year this constantly dug in and left a mark I couldn't remove. Instead I'd hide it.
In 8th grade I decided that I'd not be gay. That I'd somehow find a wife, have kids and be exactly who I was expected to be. Regardless of how happy it'd make me. It was 'normal'.
Clearly today, I don't think that way. I don't believe that, and (I try) to look past it. But never saying that, never truly coming out, and never saying those two words, I'm gay, has always been sitting on me like a giant weight.
No more. Regardless of who reads this, who cares and even who disagrees with it, I'm out. I'm free. I am me. And I'm no different than who I was, just a load lighter.