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Mind Matters | Accepting one’s sexual orientation

Mind Matters | Accepting one’s sexual orientation
I’m a 21-year-old woman and I’m confused about my sexual orientation. I think I like both men and women. But accepting that is difficult, especially because our society isn’t open about these things. I’m afraid of exploring my sexual orientation and how I feel about it. I push people away because I’m afraid that my feelings won’t be validated or that people will judge me. I haven’t even been able to share this with my family and friends. I just need some helpful advice on how I can overcome this fear and live a life where I’m not hiding who I truly am. Please help!—A confused soul  Answered by Kapil Sharma, counseling psychologist, Nepal Institute of Mental Health I understand that discussing your sexual orientation can be difficult. It’s not something our society openly talks about either. It’s natural to feel anxious and afraid of judgment. This is something many people frequently go through because of the social taboos and stereotypes in our society. But at the same time, you must realize that your happiness and sanity matter the most. 

One of the things that’s bothering you is the uncertainty you have when it comes to your sexual orientation. You might sometimes wonder why you’re acting a certain way and might not have any answers. But then you are unable to share how you feel with anyone. So before anything else, I think it’s important to clear out those confusions. 

But the thing is, the confusion won’t go away unless you talk about it. Maybe you aren’t comfortable talking about it with your friends or family. But if there is anyone who you think will understand what you’re going through, and will acknowledge your feelings, talk to them. If not, you can start by attending psychoeducation sessions with a mental health professional. There, you can learn facts about gender identities and sexual orientation that will help you understand what you’re going through.  Uncertainties will not only affect your mental health but also take a toll on your relationships with others. For instance, not being clear about what you want in a romantic relationship might compel you to push away everyone around you, especially to avoid having feelings towards them. But that will only make you lonely and your mental health will get worse. So doing everything you can do to get rid of that uncertainty is important. And that includes accepting yourself for who you are. Our society has forced us to internalize shame and guilt when we don’t fit into their standards. And there are going to be instances where your emotions get triggered despite you accepting yourself. So, it’s important to know what those triggering factors are and how you can deal with them. For that, you will need a supportive environment as well as people around you.  If it helps, I think you should attend talk sessions or events where people going through the same as you share their experiences. You’ll know that you aren’t alone in this. When you’re comfortable, you can share your experiences too. But if it gets too difficult, I think it’s best to seek help from a professional. Getting the right kind of therapy can assist you in navigating and overcoming all your difficulties.