Human rights and diversity are important regardless of your background, dear reader, but are perhaps most spotlighted when concerning those members of society whose voices tend to be suppressed in some way. Minority voices are important, brightening and enlivening the global human narrative, whether that be religion, ethnic background, sexual orientation, gender expression, relative ablebodiedness, or other aspects. The past week has been an eventful on that front, even only taking into account pre-existing days of awareness: World Mental Health Day (Oct 10), National Coming Out Day (Oct 11) [US], and International Day of the Girl Child (Oct 11). Now, you might be asking what this has to do with botany, ethnobotany, or any other permutation. The answer is multi-faceted, but in short, the planet and her inhabitants are interconnected, so what impacts one, impacts all, to a greater or lesser degree.
In every ecosystem, each member has a particular role, a niche they fill in the whole makeup of the place. The same can be said for humanity. Each person plays a particular role in the cosmic whole that is the physical and metaphoric ecosystem. Just as the removal of one shade, one thread fundamentally alters a tapestry; so too does the removal of one person alter the rest of existence. Remember that even if only at the deepest parts of ourselves, our roots are interconnected. You can't uproot one tree without impacting others. Never forget you are important and valued.
You can do whatever it is you set your mind to, be whoever you set yourself up to be, and succeed where others might think you would fail. You are an amazing amalgamation of stardust, chance, and cosmic consciousness, seeing the world through a unique lense that has never before been experienced and never will be again.
There are difficult times in every life, but take it from someone who was there, on the edge: it does get better and your self-expression is valid. Off and on throughout high school and much of my undergraduate degree, I struggled with sexuality and gender identity, as well as spirituality. Admittedly, the last was sorted relatively easily, by the end of high school. As with many, nature is both a calming force and source of inspiration for me. I happen to follow an animistic tradition.
I realize that different people operate on different time schedules, but it took till I was about thirty to fully figure out the rest. Take whatever time you need. The mighty sequoias didn't grow to their full majesty overnight, or even in a century. Things happen in their own time. You can sometimes hasten end results through research though.
Suffice to say, in high school bisexuality wasn't a "real thing," you weren't trying hard enough or weren't smart enough if Math was difficult, and I thought I was going crazy or something was wrong with me because I identified with the feminine, the masculine, and everything in between. As a young child, most of family was older, ranging between 70 to 90 years old, on average. As such, I learned about death early on. In order to make sense of it, I researched different theories; the idea of reincarnation resonating most prominently. It got to a point where I was contemplating ending things so I could come back in a body that made sense, and not have my responses to everything be all over the place. Fast forward a decade and I now know I'm genderfluid, panromantic, and demisexual. It's only been the last year or so that everything clicked, either. I still have disphoric moments, but they're not all the time. Usually there's some other external trigger and that's how my system responds. The best way I can describe it is as follows: Sometimes, I want to wear a three-piece suit and wingtips, with eyeliner and blush. Sometimes, I want to wear a full evening gown with Chucks and a bare face. Other days, it's full glam or wishing I could grow a mustache to match my bowler hat. It's just who I am. It's not that I'm not female, anymore. It's that I'm not just female. I know not everyone's experience is the same, nor should it be. Live your truth.
Be as the lotus, the indomidable water lily, pushing through the muck and murky depths to emerge victorious into the radiant sunshine and clear air. You can do this. Even if those in your immediate vascinity don't support you being you, know that you have at least one person in your corner.
Be well. Till next time,
2. A list of international suicide prevention helplines/hotlines: http://ibpf.org/resource/list-international-suicide-hotlines
3. A list of international crisis centers: https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/