The people we have around us play a major role in who we are and how we act. That is why a healthy community is so important because if you keep people around you that support a healthy environment for you then you will be able to stay in a healthy mindset more easily. But that is far easier said than done. Speaking from my own experience, ever since elementary school, I always had trouble making friends, let alone intertwining myself in any community. I would have one or two friends and even from them, I was constantly anxious that if I made the wrong move I would lose them forever.
It was a consistent issue for me that I would have to discuss with my teachers and parents often. Then I started to have feelings for guys and it only added fuel to the flame. I constantly felt like an outsider and I had no means to express those feelings. That is one very unifying part of the LGBTQ+ community as well. We have all felt like outsiders in our lives, but that unifies us and gives us all something to connect.
That experience only confirms to me the importance of a good community, especially for LGBTQ+ individuals, without a means to express who we are without fear or judgment they will only cripple themselves and their emotions causing trauma to deal with in their future. It is that sense of trust that can make one come to love and accept themselves and feel comfortable being who they are.
Fortunately for me, I had a golden opportunity. I moved from my hometown in which I was one of the only Indian people there and to my knowledge the only LGBTQ+ person there. From there I moved to a new town, it was smaller than the one I was in originally and moreover it was more white, yet I still proved as a chance to start over and surround myself with people who could accept who I truly was.
I took it as a chance to change who I was and really understand how I could establish such, no matter where I was. I would immerse myself in my interests, what I cared about, and along the way, I would meet people who I could relate to. First I started theatre, I was able to express myself in a whole new way and I was good at it. When you do the things that you really love you will consequently surround yourself with people who share the same interests. It is an incredible way to find a good environment, it was how I met some of my closest friends and how I continue to meet new friends every day. As a result, I changed. I became extroverted, loud, and happy.
I finally felt free and that freedom translated into every aspect of my life, from my grades to my health; even my relationships within my family. All that changed just from immersing myself into a community of people that loved and accepted me. That does not mean all of your problems can be changed at the flip of a switch, but it does mean that if you make the effort to consider what you want and who you want to be around you can change your life.
The moral of this story is that you can never underestimate the impact that people around you play on your life, and it is up to you to make the right decisions on who those people are going to be and most importantly who you want to be.
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