Updated: Apr 3, 2020
*Trigger Warning: this discussion is focused on navigating social constructs related to gender & sexuality*
Name: Caroline Noble Age: 20 years old Occupation: Student/ Illustrator Location: Thunder Bay, ON
I have pretty major depression and nasty anxiety ever since I can remember. It’s something that I never really knew how to deal with. I think a lot of it stemmed from my sexuality. My sexuality is something that I’ve always been sure of. But, I remember I was pretty young and already struggling with my body image and being comfortable in my own skin when I realized that I was gay - it felt like the absolute worst like,“How could this happen to me too?”. So, I just decided not to deal with it. To push it away. And, tried not to think about it.
In high school, it got to the point where I couldn’t really deal with it anymore and I ended up pushing everyone away. That’s why I don’t have any close friends from high school. It’s something I felt like I needed to do in order to cope because it became this thing where I never felt comfortable with myself and I could never figure out why. Looking back, I ended up being outed and my entire high school found out before I was ready. And, on top of that, I was also the first person to “come out”. So, I think it stemmed from this feeling of being misunderstood and the fact I didn't have anyone to relate to. It was around grade 10 or 11 when I started to feel like I didn’t want to be here. And, even though I still struggle with that voice in my head I’ve learned how to deal with it. To deal with the deep-rooted sadness and the feeling like I’m not in my body both physically and/ or mentally, which I did by getting the professional help that I needed.
After that period I felt like I was in a good place. Until I had left for University and things got really bad. I was cheated on, broken up with, was far from home and there was never anyone around me who I felt like I could identify with. Being from Oakville no one ever looked like me and same thing when I had moved away, but worse. I just felt like wherever I was nobody ever looked like me. I didn’t know where I fit. Or where I belonged. And, when I finally felt like I fit and began to feel comfortable with who I was I felt like I was ostracized for it. It felt like nobody else looked like me, so it must be wrong. It wasn’t only what people would say, but it was also the way they would look at me. It was their overall ignorance which lead me to develop an almost internalized homophobia to myself.
One of the things that still upsets me the most is when people mistaken me for a boy because I’m a woman. And, I feel like a woman. Even though I don’t present myself as super feminine, doesn’t mean that I’m not and it makes me feel like I’m not woman enough. Like, a lot of people still think I’m a gay man or trans and whenever someone mis-genders me it really cuts deep because I identify as a woman. It totally invalidates me and the fact that I feel more feminine now than I ever have. I like the way I look. I feel beautiful. I feel like myself. And, when I say that to people it hurts when they still don’t believe me.
But, now I have much more of a fuck you attitude because I just don’t have the time. Being gay is a small part of who I am and it took me so long to feel okay in my body that I don’t want to have to deal with anyone who can’t accept that. Because overall, it was the anxiety about what other people thought of me that consumed so much of my head space and created a lot of internalized self-hatred around the person who I inevitably was and am. Like, I’m here. I’m queer. So, get over it and leave me alone. I’ve also decided to make myself a priority. I’m so selfish now. And, truthfully I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Being selfish is one of the best things I’ve done for myself and one of the only ways I was able to get through it. To learn how to be alone, with myself, and to be okay.
I’ve also used art as a projection of who I was in a different way. I always did it for myself because it was my way of getting through things. To be able to lose myself in something and feel good about it when I wasn’t feeling good about myself was really therapeutic, especially because I can be really critical and mean to myself at times. So, having people, who I have never met before, asking me to draw them something because they genuinely like my art is an amazing feeling. It makes me feel wanted and when you don’t care about yourself or don’t like yourself very much it’s a really nice feeling. It’s like being wanted or known for something rather than my sexuality, which has become really important to me. I’ve gone to therapy before, but I am at the point now where art has become my main form of therapy. I’ve developed coping skills in the past and art has become the outlet that I need.