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"The phrase “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me” is a phrase that has been beaten to death so many times.
But, in terms of me, I stand on the opposite side. I would rather take a beating than hear what people say about me. The thing about getting beat up is that you get a couple bruises, break a couple bones, but those injuries heal in time. Words are bruises created on your brain that never heal. They’re like tattoos, permanent, and no matter how hard you try wash it off or scrub them, it just won’t erase. They’re like the things that scared you as a child, monsters, ghosts, demons always haunting you, keeping you up night, making you cry. These words impact every single thing that I do, every single decision I make. I don’t have anymore control of my life, because these words have taken control. I can’t say what I want, do what I want, dress how I want because of the fear of being called a fag, gay, queer is always ringing in my ears. These words have made me hate myself. These words have made me who I have become. This life, this lie that I’m living isn’t who I am. This isn’t who I wanted to be. "
And that was the darkest period of my life. It was such a low point for me because this was the time that I was discovering myself, and what I was discovering didn’t agree with what others thought. It didn’t agree with the standards of society. I loved that the real me was starting to come out, and I thought it meant a positive change, and a new happy chapter in my life. Instead, it felt like hell on earth. Imagine a person who is 5 feet tall and is trying to reach for something at the top of the Empire State Building. i know it sounds exaggerated but that’s what it felt like. Trying to reach a place in my life where I could accept myself, and be happy. Every attempt I’ve made to do things that I wanted, things that truly made happy, was always shut down by someone. One time, I actually wanted to try out for the volleyball team. I walked into the gymnasium, and stood with the other guys and they just stood there, laughing at me. So, I left, and walked away. I wore heels to school once. I made it through first period, but after the judging glances, and the endless whispers, I took them off, and forced myself to wear my gym sneakers. I liked my outfit that day. But people made it obvious that they were talking about me and judging me. It was their indirect way of telling me that I needed to take them off. It was society’s way of telling me that what I was doing didn’t agree with their standards. I can never find myself speaking about my passion for art without feeling insecure about what people will think and say. I lied to my boss at work one time, and told him I was going into film instead of fashion design because I didn’t want him looking at me weirdly or thinking about me badly. I pursued becoming a YouTuber. I made several videos, and I was doing fairly well. I had a passion for it because I thought that it could be another outlet for me to express and be myself. But after so many hateful comments, I stopped. I sobbed in my room for hours after finding a video that these boys made about me, making fun of me. That was the moment where I snapped. It’s like when kids try to break their pencils in half. There’s that period of time before the pencil snaps. The pencil is feeling all this pressure, and it just comes a time where it can’t hold itself any longer. That was me.
I’m grateful for summer days. Those days where you get a break. For most kids, it’s a break from school, teachers, work. For me, it was a break to put myself back together, and heal. I did some thinking the summer before my junior year. I just decided that I didn’t want to look back at my high school experience and think that I was someone that wasn’t myself. I’ve wasted enough time caring, and letting things get to me. I decided that I didn’t deserve to cry, or be hurt. I decided that it was time to show these people that this was who I was. I decided to show society that it’s rules were stupid. Absolute garbage. So I walked through those doors, and I walked through them as me. Everything had changed. I am proud to say, and I am proud to scream out that I am gay. I am androgynous. I am a fashion designer. F*CK society, and everything it says. It’s all bullsh*t. And I’m not saying that everyday is going to be perfect. You’re going to have cracks and holes where tiny bits of negativity can seep through. You have to believe in yourself as an individual, as someone who is original, as someone who is one of a kind, like no other. It’s your strength as an individual, your sense of self, your originality, and your uniqueness that can help you make it through everything.
It is hard, but it is possible.
It does get better.
So go out there.
Walk through those doors.
Be unapologetically yourself.
I am Sean Leslie Dollete, and this is my story.
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