S: Hi, Singlestalk. Your column is a source of light. You keep things fun no matter how sad someone’s situation is. I work in a call center. In my mid-30s. My other siblings are in the military and in the field of public service. They’re all happily married into good families, following in the footsteps of our parents who are both respected public servants in our town. While I’m a licensed Occupational Therapist, I feel like I am the odd person out. Adding my struggles with my own gender identity, I feel like I am not good enough to be part of this family.
DJ: From what I understand, there are two distinct but potentially correlated concerns here. Your self-esteem and your gender identity. Self-esteem is the opinion we have on ourselves. It may not necessarily be true. Perhaps there were too many dark clouds of doubt that accumulated growing up—the negative opinion of teachers, classmates, siblings and parents. Even social media. Unfortunately, the message that we are not good enough is the one that sticks. But you are wonderfully made regardless of what gender you identify with and what your past history consists of. I know just being told of these is not enough, of course. To rebuild your self-esteem, you need to rediscover what your good qualities are. And there are many of them!
When my heart was last broken, I spent the majority of the succeeding years believing that I was unworthy and undeserving of love. I knew that there was love in the world. But I thought it was for those lucky enough to have fate smile upon them. Why did I believe this? Mostly because of thoughts inside my head that I interpreted and misinterpreted. It didn’t matter that a few years before that I finished graduate school with highest honors. It was hard for me to even see the love of family and few real friends. They did not matter because I already decided that I wasn’t good enough and that belief system remained solidly in place. Good thing I sought professional help and eventually realized that my reasons for deciding that I was unworthy and undeserving of love were not true. I’ll privately email you the contact details of a doctor who helped me through. No pressure. Just an option to consider.
Regarding your gender identity, are you already out? Even just selectively among family and close friends. If they do not have any reaction, it doesn’t mean they are indifferent. A classmate came out to me as gay back at the university. I must admit I did not respond to it as a good human being should. I was just silent. He thought I was cold. But the truth was, I just did not know what to say. In time, however, I learned my lesson. It happens even to the best of us when there are matters in which we are unsure how to respond. But how people think about you is beyond your control. What you have the most influence on is what you think about yourself. Be kind to yourself as you are with other people.
Why would you not be good enough just because you are attracted to people of the same gender or because you are in a different line of work or path from that of your siblings? Who you are attracted to does not change who you are as a person. If you’re good at Mobile Legend or Call of Duty at Mobile, for example, or if you’re a good cook or a great friend to many, you are still that person.
Every person’s nature is good. Your parents, your siblings, you. Yes, you. It’s just that through time, you’re probably tossed on waves of powerful emotions that create untold suffering. What does good enough mean to you? Make it a personal conviction rather than stemming from a want to prove something. Stay clear of any comparative stance. You are uniquely you. Challenge your negative beliefs about yourself. Being kind to yourself means being gentle to yourself at times when you feel like being self-critical. Being gay or bisexual or transgender or your chosen line of work doesn’t change who you are and does not make you less of a friend or a family member. You are good enough. Love yourself. And as we know, love is not a feeling but a decision. Decide to do that every single day. You got this. And I’m praying for you.