“Uriel, be your raw self.”
The words echo in my head as my alarm clock goes berserk and yanks me out of my bizarre dream. I immediately pour everything I can remember into the curled up pages of my dream journal, thinking that I shouldn’t have read Psychic Intelligence before going to bed. In my dream, I was struggling to answer a college interviewer’s question, “How do you get raw rose petals?” The interviewer, perhaps out of pity for my floundering, answered: “Be your raw self.” As a repressed homosexual, I knew that being “raw” translated to acceptance of that aspect of myself, from me as well as others.
For many years, I was ashamed of who I was. I recall being deathly afraid of rejection, but what frightened me the most was my own rejection of my true self. I often felt trapped and isolated, which not surprisingly led me to a classic outlet of coping: journaling. Within the nonjudgmental pages of my journal, I would let loose all my fears and pain of rejection. In the early days, the pages read, “I’m scared of ridicule. I’m scared of what my friends and family will think of me. I am scared to be me. Why do I put myself through this?” With each successive entry, I brought myself to a slightly more liberated state of mind.
I wrote for two consecutive years before I had that dream, which unlocked the answer to my dilemma of identity. But it would take another year before I mustered up the courage to take action, a year of gradually accepting myself and familiarizing the old me with the new me. After I came out to my family and friends, my journal finally got to show a lighter side: “No longer am I split between artificial and authentic. I am THE most authentic version of myself today and I could not be happier.” Now, I know not to hide the real person behind an artificial persona.
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” I could not agree more, I feel that I have let my innermost self out, and I have never felt so accomplished in my life. After this, I know that I can overcome any other obstacle that comes my way, whether it is internal or external. Today I am happy with who I am, for I am my raw self.
This fact sheet was produced in collaboration with GSA Network with support from California voter-approved Proposition 63 funds, as an initiative to develop mental health resources for LGBTQ youth in California. See the funding statement below for details.
This program is funded by counties through the voter-approved Mental Health Services Act (Prop 63). It is one of several Prevention and Early Intervention Initiatives implemented by the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA), an organization of California counties working to improve mental health outcomes for individuals, families and communities. CalMHSA encourages the use of materials contained herein, as they are explained in our licensing agreements. To view the agreements, please visit: calmhsa.org