Am I ‘enough’ ….. ?
In the counselling room we often hear people describe that they are ‘not enough’. In our community not only do individuals feel a lack of belonging in hetero/gender normative culture but also fear that they are not enough (not enough ‘gay’) to belong under the LGBTIQ+ umbrella; or even more specifically, not enough to belong under one of the identity fields. I.e.: not yet trans enough to be a trans person; not yet lesbian enough to belong as a lesbian.
Clients describe being not ‘out enough’, ‘not queer enough’; having not done ‘enough time’ in the trenches of a particular identity; not ‘transitioned enough’ (in self or life) and not ‘having enough history or lived experience’. That is, I am ‘not enough’ (yet) to belong.
There is an inherent fundamental drive in a human to belong, in fact it’s a survival technique. If I belong, I survive. That’s the unspoken rule. And its one that has stressed many LGBTIQ+ folk for a long time. This drive for belonging, and fear that it may not be met (again), causes significant anxiety. So much so that it can inhibit social connections and activity, meaningful life action, and access to the personal power; that kind of power that arises from locating yourself in your own identity and owning it.
What’s important to know is that these feelings are common. And while there can sometimes be some deeper underlying belief systems and fears that underpin these anxieties (which you can take to your counselling sessions) there are also some ways in which you can start to support yourself right now.
First – tell someone. It can sometimes be really helpful to reach out to someone in community who you trust (a group would be even better!). Say to them, ‘I am feeling that I am not bi/gay/trans/non binary etc enough to be here’ ‘Have you ever felt this way?’. ‘What was it that made you feel like you belong?’. Opening vulnerable conversations with trusted people will help you build belonging. Likely they have experienced this also, and by opening this conversation you have just built a bridge between your fear and the reality that you are not alone (i.e. you belong). You are also gaining resourcefulness as well as connections.
Also start really recognising all of who you are and start loving you from the inside out. Write it down, affirm your qualities, practice kindness and speak to yourself how you would speak to others. Practice fluidity if that suits, allow yourself to be curious and try different ways of expression. Own what feels true and leave what doesn’t. Feel into the qualities of who you are and what you bring to the LGBTIQ+ umbrella. Know that there is no one right way to be a lesbian, or trans or queer person. Who you are is right, and we assure you that you already belong.