Feels good

Recently I’ve been doing some thinking about what labels I identify with in terms of gender and sexuality after reading The ABC’s of LGBT+ by Ash Hardell. I’ve made it this far without really questioning my gender or looking too hard at my sexuality, but since coming out of a relationship that’s lead to a lot more freedom, I feel like I need to get to properly know myself.

Labels aren’t something that I’ve ever really strongly connected to or questioned growing up; the biggest label I gave to myself in sixth form college was bisexual, and more recently since starting university, polyamorous. But I guess these were because I was pretty certain who I was: a woman who was into guys and girls. What more is there to say?


A whole bunch it turns out.

At the moment I’m questioning myself a lot and trying to figure out who I am (hurray for being in your 20s!), and in doing so I’ve come across lots of different labels for gender and sexuality. In order to understand these better, I watched a lot of youtube videos and read The ABC’s of LGBT+.

Since September of last year, I’ve been regularly attending LGBT+ society meetups and I feel like it’s a place where I can let my guard down and relax a little. But apart from this, I’ve never really been exposed the LGBT+ community and what it actually comprises. Going to these socials gave me an introduction to the world of LGBT+, but reading Ash’s book has really opened my eyes to the wonderful diversity within the community and has given me a much broader view on gender and sexuality (and based on this I intend to read much more into queer theory and history, and feminism!)

Reading The ABC’s of LGBT+ has made me stop and think about aspects of my life that have been/are depicted by expectations that come with the gender binary. Thinking about where I fit in all of this, I realise that non-binary is a word that I connect to.

In the past, my gender non-conformity has confused me and made me question myself and my validity ‘as a woman’, and at points when I was feeling low I tended to think of myself as flaky. I used to think that I needed to ‘choose’ one way to dress and that I couldn’t keep going back and forth between what I thought were my ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’ outfits. But now I know that however I choose to express myself is perfectly fine, and even more so there are other people who feel the same as I do! And in all honesty, who gives a fuck?!

By learning words like gender identity, expression, and fluidity I was able to find and relate to other peoples’ experiences. I’d never heard/fully understood these terms, but after learning what they meant it made me feel so much better about myself. Just knowing they are there gives me a sense of ease. As I grow and change as a person, I may very well drift into feeling more connected to certain labels, and I’m looking forward to being open to change! I feel more okay now with being fluid in a way I’ve never felt before.

I didn’t really give a damn when I was a kid. I think back to when, as a young child, I used to wear a t-shirt and trousers with a chain one day, and skirts on others. How I was playing with dolls one minute and dinosaurs the next. Role-playing as both boys and girls in the playground and at home. But at some point, I started to get the sense that maybe I wasn’t doing things the way they were supposed to be. That maybe I shouldn’t be doing certain things.

I think about how, in high school, I never wanted to wear skirts, yet felt uncomfortable because many other girls did. How lots of other girls wore makeup and I never had the desire to, and how I felt that somehow this made me less attractive and desirable. How I mainly had male friends, until it was pointed out as something weird, so I changed my whole friendship group to girls. How I always hated my long hair and how it made me look, so I had it cut off, yet didn’t really see many examples of other girls doing the same thing.

I only started feeling uncomfortable in myself when I became aware that there might be a way that I was supposed to act or look. All teenagers worry about fitting in, but it’s extra hassle when gender non-conformity is thrown into the mix. Wearing trousers and choosing not to wear makeup is completely normal, yet they caused me a lot of unnecessary worry and stress because I was completely unaware that options apart from The Perfect Womanโ„ข were available to me.


Something that I had at least some idea about growing up was sexuality. At the very least I was taught that sexuality is a thing. I’ve known since high school that I am attracted to both men and women, and I just kind of accepted bisexuality as the thing that I experienced once I learned the word. I still feel pretty similar today, although since learning more about gender my definition has expanded.

I think labels can be pretty useful to describe yourself to others and to have a clearer sense of yourself. And ultimately, I think labels aren’t something to get hung up over, but they can be handy. And it’s completely up to each person whether they choose to use them or not, and it’s okay for them to change over time.

I want to find labels in order to help me describe myself to myself. Once I have the language to understand and describe what’s going on with me, then I can tell other people what my deal is, if I want to. So my plan is to try on some different labels in terms of gender and see what feels right. But if anyone asks me, I’m gonna tell them that I’m a bisexual, gender-questioning, polyamorous individual that uses she/her pronouns. For now. Whew, that’s a mouthful. Feels good to say though.


If you’re questioning your gender identity and/or sexuality, or just want to know more about LGBTQIA+ identities, then I’d highly recommend The ABC’s of LGBT+. It serves as a great starting point to learn some basic vocabulary. If you can’t get the paperback copy, then Ash has made a condensed, free eBook version which you can download here, as well as lots of handy educational videos on their channel. Plus, you have the whole internet! Start exploring!!


This is fine

Hey there peeps! So as I’ve already established the reason I’m here is to talk about my life in a way that’s constructive, and hopefully gives a takeaway point. What I want to talk about today is a problem that I’ve been facing on and off for the past few years that’s related to anxiety. Keep in mind that this is just my experience and it cannot be broadly applied to everyone who has to deal with anxiety! But maybe you’ll find yourself doing something similar in other situations.

I don’t know any names to refer to this by, so here I’m going to refer to it as stacking. What this means is that I can experience a situation or thought that brings me anxiety, and instead of going through that anxiety and overcoming it, it sets a new baseline. This means the next time I experience anxiety it gets stacked on top of the last one, which can lead to lots of stress. I’m absolutely certain that other people have experienced something similar at some point in their lives, it’s a ‘the straw that broke the donkey’s back’ kinda situation. Look, I even made some graphs to illustrate it:

  1. How I’d ideally experience anxiety

    An event/thought happens which causes anxiety. It could vary in how long it lasts, or how much anxiety it causes, but it’s only temporary.

  2. How I experience anxiety when stacking

    An event/thought happens which causes anxiety, and every time another thing happens the anxiety is added on top. This way it’s a lot easier to reach high stress levels.

  3. How I feel when anxious

    Regardless of how anxious I feel, I always feel that internal panic and dread.

So this is something I’m actually going through at the moment. On Monday I was feeling pretty good, but now it’s Friday and I’ve accumulated lots of anxiety over the week. My mind has picked at things and proposed many questions to me. Most of them are along the lines of “Hey you know this thing? What if it doesn’t work out?”, “So this thing you have to do, why aren’t you doing it now?”, and “Oh look at this thing you’re doing, surely you’re not good enough”. Clearly my anxiety has combined with my low self-confidence, and it’s become tailored to what’s going on in my life at the moment. And that’s why it can be so difficult to deal with, it’s personal. Anxiety makes you question your decisions in the most personal ways possible, and it usually has the biggest effects when you’re going through some other feelings/events at the same time. This is why it’s important to take into consideration what other factors could be contributing at any one time. These can sometimes be obvious, for example you might have a big workload, or have just gone through a breakup, but in other cases it can be a bit harder. And when it’s harder to see if there’s an underlying cause/contributor to anxiety, I find that it’s easy to let it sit there and progress into stacking. In order to deal with this, the first step it to actually realise that things are building up, and once you’ve realised that, you can start to look into what’s going on in that big tangle of anxiety. I find it helpful to think about the questions my anxious mind is asking me, and work backwards from there. So I’m actually doing this at the moment, and I’m going to go through my thoughts here and aim for a positive outcome:

  • The anxious thought: “You’re never going to get a job in the field, you have no experience and you’re not good enough”. The cause: anxiety around uncertainty after graduating. Can I do something about it? Yes. Action: focus on looking for experience, this is the next step after graduation.
  • The anxious thought: “You don’t have any friends, and nobody wants to talk to you”. The cause: anxiety around the thought of being alone, low self-confidence, having gone through a recent break up. Can I do something about it? Yes. Action: reach out and make more friends, talk more to existing friends, focus on doing things that you enjoy you build up your self confidence.
  • The anxious thought: “You’re being irresponsible every time you spend money on yourself, you don’t deserve it and you’re only going to get into money troubles”. The cause: having recently spent some money on myself, having grown up with the idea that money is only for the absolute essentials, not keeping a strict budget. Can I do something about it? Yes. Action: re-evaluate my budget and see what extra money is free to spend.

Just doing this right now has given me some instant relief, and I feel like I’m unstacking. Instead of feeling like I’m under a crushing pile of undoable tasks, I have an action plan to work on and I feel more in control of the situation. Feeling generally anxious a lot of the time for me stems from worries, so evaluating the anxiety when certain thoughts come across my mind can help me trail back to the underlying worries. Putting them under pressure makes them fall apart when they don’t hold any ground. I tend to find that my worries are actually quite useful, like above, they can help point me in the right direction. That being said, worrying and feeling anxious still sucks ass. And I know that even though I’ve tackled some of these worries, I will still feel anxious in the future, worried or not. And that’s okay. When that happens, I’m going to try and not criticise myself and give myself a little time to recompose. I find it’s helpful to try and have a positive inner voice (when possible), which gets easier to use with more practice. Next time I feel like someone is staring at me in public, I’m going to try hard to consciously think “Oh hello there! Are you looking at me? Because I bet I can look at you harder, I would totally beat you in a staring contest. Or can you not handle my dashingly good looks?”. This helps me to recover from anxiety faster, or in some lucky cases avoid it altogether! It’s hard work though, and it takes a lot of mental effort. But practicing using a positive inner voice makes it a little easier over time. Personally, I like to give my inner voice a lot of sass. Heck, if you wanted you could have Alan Rickman as an inner voice.

To summarise: don’t beat yourself up, be kind to yourself, and hone your inner voice.

– H


Comic by KC Green