For those of you who know me, this may or may not come as a shock. I’ve talked it over with my husband, again and again, for the past few weeks. He supports me completely and he agrees that it’s time I get this out in the open.
It’s time for me to admit what I really want and how I really feel. I’ve been hiding and pretending for years because of what other people told me. This could ruin my life. It could make it impossible for me to get a job or live where I please. This might not be what anyone who loves me would have chosen, but it doesn’t make it any less true.
Hamlet’s Polonius says, “This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” Like most Shakespeare I read when I was young, this has become more relevant and more true to me as I’ve gotten older. The truth is, we can’t really be false to one another. When we choose to live a lie, our truth leaks out all over. Our eyes attach themselves to the things we really want. In our lonely free time, we still seek out that which lights the fire at the core. We can pretend, we can act publicly like we’re somebody else, and we can hope it all works out and that nobody gets hurt.
Thou canst not be false to any man.
I was really worried about telling my mom. She’s an incredibly practical woman, with a great deal of that homey wisdom that’s built mostly in the kitchen and haunts you all your life. But when she came to visit me and tour Berkeley, she saw through me like she always does. She was actually the first one to call me out on it. I guess nobody knows you like your mom.
I’m stalling. I went to see a counselor at Cal today, and I said it out loud for the first time. It was an exhilarating moment, but a terrifying one, too. In it was all my fear of dying alone with a bunch of cats because of who I am.
I’ve decided to try. I’m in the right place- Berkeley is so liberal and accepting that I know I can claim my identity in safety and I’ll be heard.
I was always one of those people who made jokes about this, but all the while I nursed a secret desire.
I’m an English major. In my heart, I always have been. I’ve been afraid I would not be loved for what I am, so I’ve gone from one thing to the next, never settling down. Underneath the turmoil, the river runs smooth and true. It runs back in time to my first memories of books, it runs deep in my bloodstream to those places in me that rise to quote Shakespeare and Nabokov and Chaucer.
I read. I write. I proofread. I compose. I even publish, on occasion. I don’t care who knows or who sees me doing it. This is who I am. And it must follow, as night follows day, that this is what I will study.
This above all: to thine own self be true.