It can be difficult as a young person to find out who you are, and where you feel you belong in the world. It can be even more challenging when you identify as LGBT+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and other genders and sexualities such as non-Binary).
It can be isolating to know you are different from others, or don’t feel accepted by those close to you, and it can be challenging to overcome fears of judgement and let people know of your identity. It’s important to find people you can rely on to support you.
Space Youth Project is a charity organisation in Dorset which focuses on helping young people in the LGBT+ community embrace their identity and potential, in a safe and supportive environment. Space Youth Project aim to encourage young people to build their confidence, their trust in others, feel comfortable expressing themselves and to provide them with a safe ‘space’.
Here are some positive stories from young people at Space Youth Project about overcoming their challenges:
“I came out when I was 14. It was very scary. When I was questioning myself, I was a very shy person, so it was hard for me to talk to people let alone say, I’m this person. So, it was really scary.”
“I came out when I was 15. My father left me, and this added to the bullying and emotional side of things. But these negative experiences have made me stronger as a person and more confident in myself. Once I turned 18, I found I could speak to people more and connect with them more than I used to. Now I know more about organisations like Space Youth Project, I can get involved with the community, and this helps me to progress.”
“I think it takes a lot of self-support. Having to come out to yourself, realising it is okay to feel how you feel, and there are people out there that feel like that. And there are ways and things you can do to feel good about yourself.”
“The old me was so introverted, and I wouldn’t talk to anyone, I wouldn’t communicate with anyone but now I know who I am, I’m getting more confident, therefore I’m talking more, I’ve got a voice that I can help people with. Other people around me are telling me that they’re proud of me, and that in turn is making me feel more confident, and prouder of myself, because I’m realising that I am achieving things now, rather than being stuck in a rut, going nowhere. So, I’m starting to become prouder and definitely more confident in what I feel and what I think”.
“I’ve gotten a lot more self-confident and a lot more proud, which is something I’ve got back from before things started getting bad. It builds up as you begin making progress and start becoming happier with yourself. I started out thinking, I’m never going to leave my room, I’m just going to hide away and not let people see me. But I’ve got to a point now where I’ll go outside and I don’t care what people think, at all, because I deserve to be here as much as anyone else. Before I was a creation of everyone else’s expectations of me, and I couldn’t be proud of that because it wasn’t me. But now, I’m comfortable in who I am and how people see me, and I can be proud of that. I’m not 100% there yet, but it’s me, and this is what I need to do to be happy with myself; it’s my own image of happiness and not someone else’s.”
It’s clear how much of a change accepting yourself and your identity can make. It can be difficult as a young person to see your individual values and strength in your uniqueness, and to show them to others. The more you value yourself the more confidence you’ll have to live the life you want. Giving yourself some kindness and appreciation can be a big positive step on your mental health journey. Dorset Mind Your Head and Space Youth Project are here for you when you need us to help you help yourself.
Our guest blogger:
Thank you to Katie Surrey from Space Youth Project for writing this blog post.
For more information on Space Youth Project and their Dorset youth groups visit: www.spaceyouthproject.co.uk
If you are struggling to cope with your mental health, please speak to your GP. You can also, self-refer to speak to one of our friendly team at Dorset Mind Your Head. Visit: https://bit.ly/DMYHservices to view Dorset Mind Your Head Services for young people 25 and under.