When It’s Time to Fly

Below is a short essay I wrote in Lisa Ernst’s Writing and Meditation Workshop offered by One Dharma on 2/15/14:

What touched me today was reading about the actor Elliot Page’s coming out and particularly watching the video  on the Human Rights Campaign website. Here was this accomplished young person speaking in front of a crowd–something I’m sure they have done many times before. You could hear the nervousness in their voice–the wavering and uncertainty.

But what I was most transfixed by were their hands. They were shaking so much that they had to hold them cupped together for almost the entire time. At one point, they let them go to make a point, and they were like tiny birds released, but still unsure of how high to fly.

About halfway through their speech when they finally said the words, “I’m gay,” and the audience stood and cheered for them, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be marvelous if everyone upon coming out had a cheering audience swelling with whoops of joy, mirroring back to you the terrifyingly awesome feeling of finally releasing your authentic self out of your mouth and into the world?”

It’s like watching a birth: the long wait and gestation before, the agonizing pains of labor, but then the deep knowing that there is no going backwards–in fact, what’s back no longer exists even–and you are propelled into a shiny, brand new, sparkling world that blinds you with its rightness. And you wonder how you ever lived in the dull past with you old, small, tightly-reined-in self.

Letting it all go–the expectations, the dreams of someone else for you, your own dreams that never quite fit no matter how you cut and sewed and re-sewed them–it’s the scariest thing ever. It’s tough enough to do that for yourself and your family & close friends privately, let alone on a widely-broadcast YouTube video.

But to live every day as authentically as you can–what a gift to yourself and the world! I could see the relief on their face when the words came out of their mouth. Naming ourselves, saying the words, and believing that you can say them and there will be a bridge to carry you to the other side requires such a leap of faith.

I remember testing out the words myself before I dared to speak them aloud to anyone. It felt like I had a tiny baby bird inside me–me, its nest–and it was time to push her out. Keeping her in the once-safe nest was no longer an option for that would only stunt her growth. I had to have faith that her wings were ready and strong enough to take on the world.  It was her time to fly.

29 thoughts on “When It’s Time to Fly

  1. Shannon

    Very, very good……. and very encouraging. Everyone has their own journey…… with their own concerns and considerations….. but I’m so happy you are on happy terra firma!

  2. Teresa Kennison

    What a beautifully written piece! You never fail to impress, Andrea. It will be amazing when people dont have to come out any more because they won’t have to be closeted in the first place.

  3. Claire Brantley

    Yay for your new blog! More good stuff for me to read!!! And thank you for your usual eloquence pointed in this specific direction — this is important stuff, and it’s good to have your smart, funny self writing about it. Love you, A — and proud of you every day!!!

    1. Claire: my sister girl! Thanks so much for the wonderful words of support–you’ve definitely been there from the beginning and I appreciate you more than you know!

  4. I read your essay on Lisa’s blog and thought I’d just pop over here to say how much I liked it.

    I like to think myself as not judgemental, but I have a friend who doesn’t fit the masculine or feminine stereotypes, and it was only by seeing the struggle in them that I’ve begun realising how much bias exists in me on the subconscious level, something which I must learn to understand and overcome.

    Thank you for letting me read your lovely essay.


    1. Thanks for reading, Kate! I think we all are tasked with confronting our own biases–they exist in all of us. I’m glad that my essay moved you to comment, and I hope to provide more thought-provoking content in future posts!

  5. Deb Markland

    I love this line… “the deep knowing that there is no going backwards–in fact, what’s back no longer exists…” You inspire me, my friend. Keep speaking your truth. We’re listening.

  6. Kristin Seitz

    Nicely written. It’s a beautiful thing to witness a person begin to, finally, let go of all that fear, and a shame they never deserved.

      1. Kristin Seitz

        I just read that you’re also working on a book! I’m excited for you, Andrea. I’m sure it’ll be a complex and rewarding journey for you. May you continue to find a wealth of support.
        -“Zoe Fitzsimmons”

  7. yarnspinnerpress

    Y’all should come to Michigan this year, kiddo. All the good old gals from Sisterspirit – Kim, Birch etc., and occasionally Wanda, come and hang out together. And next year will be its last. Think on it. And as for your coming out, I’ve always known it was where you were going, I just hoped you’d manage to get there in time to enjoy it. Much affection, Marideth

    1. Marideth: We talked about going to Michigan last year, but couldn’t get it together. It’s definitely on the radar now! Thank you for your comment and your friendship. And, yes, I finally got to where you knew I was going–thankfully, in plenty of time to enjoy it! Much love to you!

  8. Hi, Andrea. Thanks for sharing yourself with us all. I certainly wouldn’t want to comment in any way that would lessen the spirit and direction of this blog, but I would like to say that I think that your perspectives on coming out are, at least for me, easily generalizable for any person who transitions in his/her life–especially those who move on the spectrum from less- to more authentic, as I feel I have in the last decade. There is no value that can be placed on an honest life, regardless of its direction. In the wake of such a transition, a person’s importance transforms from “worth” to WORTH, and the entire world benefits from one person’s growth. I love and respect you so much for being you, for moving through all of life’s challenges in a way that blesses those around you, and for living a genuine life. (And even better–your honest life is held up in the wonderful, strong hands of love, which endures all manner of crazy stuff.)

    Mad, mad love, my sister. You’re my hero.

    1. Scott: I absolutely think that living authentically includes everyone–it is not limited to those who struggle with their sexual identity. I’m so glad that this essay resonated with you that way! Big love to you, brother!

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