Unapologetically Me: Freedom and Fulfillment

Growing up, I was the kid who asked a lot of questions. Even though I was scared to be myself for most of my life, I wanted to know why things were the way they were and how I could make them better.

When I was in middle school, I was bullied because of my appearance and how I spoke. I guess my love for knowledge made me weird to the other students at school, particularly those who looked like me.

When I was around my peers, sometimes I was quiet and observant and other times I was loud and boisterous to gain their attention. I was never content with just being myself. I wanted them to like and accept me and I remember feeling alone, wondering why God made me the way I was.

Losing my mother at a young age completely changed the course of my life. My father tried his best to fill the role of both parents, but he couldn’t do it all on his own. I was grateful for my Grandmother Sarah who was always there for me, helping me through tough times and showing me that I was worth loving. Even when I didn’t believe it myself.

As I was processing my grief, I was grappling with my sexuality. My father is a pastor and let’s just say, it was made very clear to me that anything that was not “heterosexual” was unacceptable. It felt like every part of me was in conflict.

All of the things that were supposed to make sense became confusing and eventually painful. I just did not feel safe anywhere. I wanted my mom. The voice in my head told me no one would ever accept who I really am.

I started watching YouTube videos by LGBTQ+ creators and that is when I realized I was not alone. There were other people who felt the way that I did living happy lives. That gave me hope. It showed me that there was a possibility for me to be happy and authentic.

Eventually, I started to find my own voice. I realized that I didn’t have to be like everyone else to be accepted. I could be myself and that was okay. In fact, it was more than okay. It was amazing!

The struggles in my life have made me who I am today. I know that my story is not unique, but it is special to me. Every person has a story worth telling. So tell your story, because it matters. I am proud to be an unapologetic, Black, queer woman and I will never stop fighting for my rights and the rights of others.

Eventually, I was able to find my people. The ones who loved me for being inquisitive and the ones who loved the way I showed up every day. I didn’t have to be someone that I wasn’t. I could finally exhale.

When I found them, particularly my wife, I began exploring how I could show up authentically and unapologetically. Exploring my freedom and fulfillment ultimately allowed me to be unapologetically me, so my reflection question for you is what does freedom and fulfillment look like in your life?

I’ve found in mine that first, it takes accountability. It means being honest with yourself, taking responsibility for your actions and dealing with your trauma. Second, it takes transparency: being authentic in your interactions with others, sharing your story and living in your truth.

Finally, it takes integrity, doing the right thing even when no one is looking. It’s about being honest with yourself and others while living your values. These three things are essential for me.

Today, I am still the kid that asks a lot of questions because I want to know how we can make things better. But now I know that it is okay to be who I am. I hope that we can all find the courage within ourselves to do the same.

Don’t allow anything to prevent you from living your truth! You are loved. You are valuable. You have people rooting for you. You are not alone!

Now more than ever with the world’s anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric, we need people who are unapologetically themselves despite the challenges our community faces. You have the power to make a difference in this world!

The journey to freedom and fulfillment is a personal commitment to yourself. It starts with the willingness to explore, evolve and grow. It is an ongoing journey that will require courage, vulnerability and most importantly, love. What that looks like for each of us is unique, but it always starts with showing up authentically and intentionally. Are you ready to begin your journey?

I am so excited to be one of the newest writers for Watermark. I am a queer, Black woman who is deeply committed to social justice and education reform and it’s an honor to share my perspective here. I hope you follow along on this journey with me.

Bianca Goolsby, MBA is a digital strategist and activist who partners with mission-driven organizations to increase their impact through innovative and effective online communications. She also empowers and equips families to curate safe social spaces for themselves and their children.

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