Authenticity in the Workplace
It can be terrifying to bring your authentic self to work. I grew up in Brandon, Mississippi, a small town located in the most conservative county in the state. There was a car dealership on every corner and a church in between. I was called gay for the first time when I was 11, before I even fully understood what the word meant. I was ridiculed and bullied throughout middle school and high school. I grew up in a liberal household yet still struggled to come out. My queer brother committed suicide when I was 15, and his death locked me in my secure closet for 4 more years. I sensed I, too, would make the same decision if I came out. It seemed like the only possible outcome. Fast forward 10+ years — I’m in New York. I’m out to everyone in my life. I’ve had a partner for 8 years. I’ve spent countless hours unpacking my trauma in therapy. I’m just now at a place where I feel I can bring my full authentic self to work. And, that’s okay. It doesn’t happen overnight. Do it when you feel safe. Do it when you feel stable. Do it when you are ready.