I’ve been single for 5 years and I’m still figuring out how being queer fits into that

By Charlie Sawyer

Published Aug 27, 2023 at 09:15 AM

Reading time: 3 minutes

Self-discovery is a seriously tiresome journey. If I’m being completely honest, I can’t exactly remember the last time I was completely relaxed. There are, of course, moments over the years—having a cool iced Aperol spritz in one hand and a floppy yet crisp pepperoni pizza in the other usually helps. But, for the most part, my brain lives in a perpetually panicked mode. And one of the things that seems to take up priority panic space these days is my sexuality.

I understand that this is the most cliché thing in the world to say, but I’ve always known that I wasn’t fully straight—and I put some emphasis on the word ‘fully’ because the thing I’ve found hardest throughout this entire process is figuring out who I actually am—what my identity is. Bisexual never felt right, neither did pansexual. In reality, the only label I’ve ever gravitated towards is queer—and even this one hosts its own myriad of internal confusions.

The first person I ever told that I think I might be queer was an Uber driver. I was at university at the time and I was coming home after a night out, a particularly important night out which had involved me spending the entire evening kissing a girl. Naturally, I assumed that it was a good idea to spill my guts to my Uber driver who, by the way, subsequently gave me 2 stars. Presumably, he was either bored stiff of my sad blonde girl troubles or just plain old homophobic. We’ll never know.

Either way, ever since that moment, it’s as though I’ve had all of these thoughts and feelings sitting at the back of my throat, and now they’ve all decided to spill out. I can’t stop. Considering the fact that my queerness was something I vehemently hid throughout my entire childhood, once I’ve had a drink or two, adult me doesn’t seem to have any filter whatsoever. Have you ever experienced something like that?

The problem is, with so little, what you might call ‘queer experience’, I often feel as though I have no right to speak about or involve myself in a community that I don’t feel completely a part of. To be honest, even writing this now makes me feel like a fraud. No matter how much external validation I get from friends, I can’t help but feel as though it would’ve just been so much easier to keep my mouth shut altogether.

And before you say anything, I promise this isn’t some kind of ‘woe is me, my life is so hard’ routine. I completely understand that I’m currently living in a location and society that, for the most part, is hugely accepting of LGBTQIA+ lifestyles. And moreover, I’m able to navigate the world as a straight-presenting woman which is a serious privilege. That being said, I’m not going to sit here and say that coming to terms with my sexuality has been a breeze.

I remember when I was younger, I used to have this theory about couples. Being in a couple is like being in a members-only club where the entry requirements consist of city break together in Europe and matching personalised key chains. When you have a significant other, you often don’t even appreciate the benefits. That is, of course, until your membership is revoked and you’re suddenly stuck scrolling through your WhatsApp conversations trying to look for an alternative summer holiday partner.

Now, imagine having to deal with singledom while also trying to pluck up the courage to live authentically, both in real life and on your Hinge profile. This shit is difficult. Oh, and on top of all that, throw in a crippling anxiety disorder, a full-time job, and a self-esteem that’s giving sad girl emoji energy.

What I’m really trying to say is, coming to terms with your queerness as a woman while also not having had any proper dating experience with women is a really emotionally trying feat. I’ve been single for half a decade, and during that time all of the romantic encounters I’ve had, haven’t been exactly ‘fufilling’ or ‘emotionally healthy’. I’ve pretty much made my way through a parade of fuckboys, twats, and expert ‘boyfriend experience’ wankers—yes, I am a modern day Bridget Jones, just without Renée Zellweger’s thighs.

I’ve still got a lot to figure out, and I should potentially think about taking my endless stream of consciousness off of the internet. But I think the point of this article is to hopefully reassure people that if you are going through your own journey, there’s no ‘right’ way to do it. You don’t need to fit any specific criteria to feel a certain way. And the most important thing to remember is, it’s no one’s fucking business anyway.

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