Lily’s College Lesbianage #4: Oh, College Girls!

[all images and photos on this post (except the last one of Lily) are via Achtung Baby!,
the blog of our friend John Moon.]

Hello Autostraddlers…it’s been a while!

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks trying to figure out just how much is appropriate for me to share on the interwebs. Should I use this as a diary of sorts—one where I display my often Sylvia Plath/Elizabeth Wurtzel-like thoughts? Should I be discussing relationships? Should I be emotional? Or should I be interviewing fellow gay students? Reporting on gay news from a variety of college campuses? Separating my personal life from what I am writing about that month?

Ideally I should be able to find a balance, to give the readers what they want while not divulging too much of myself and most importantly to do my job in a consistent and orderly fashion. But ideally I would be able to get through the day without immobilizing anxiety and random spurts of unstoppable tears. I’d be able to be a better and more reliable intern during this Autostraddle revolution (we ARE taking over the world, if you haven’t noticed) while also being able to keep up with my relatively simple academic schedule. But then life gets in the way.
dotted-divider2

Oh College Girls…

I waited two months to introduce to Lesbianage the fact that I had met someone. Two months seemed safe. Things appeared to be going well. And then they weren’t. All of the sudden my relationship existed on the internet but did not exist in real life. This could explain our never-ending love for the internet.

I’m not a huge fan of talking about my own romantic relationships, save for angry post-break up ranting to anyone who is willing to listen. So to describe the state of mind that my relatively recent loss put me in for about a week and a half…well let’s just say I listened to a lot of Leonard Cohen and angry women who probably played Lilith-Fair circa 1997. Not because I felt like I would never be in a relationship again but because I lost the comfort of always having someone to count on, to be there when I needed to talk, or when I just needed someone to have lunch with. I’m back to square one. I have to attempt to actively make friends again and it’s incredibly scary.
dotted-divider2

Gays in the Woods!

The weekend before my happened-way-too-fast relationship ended just as quickly as it began, I spent two nights away from Manhattan with a bunch of gays in a cabin. I am not making that up! I didn’t think I’d be so into the touchy-feely emotional Oprah-like feel of the event (even though I knew for sure that I wanted to go—that I HAD to go) but by the end of the first day I felt surrounded by so much love that I knew I never wanted to leave.

It is nearly impossible to put into words what a weekend like that felt like. No man-made system of language can do justice to what I got out of that experience. So I urge all of you college students—bring up the idea of an LGBTQ retreat to your gay groups on campus and if your school already offers a retreat or an event with a similar idea—go to it. It is 100% worth it and will be one of the best experiences of your life.

dotted-divider2

So That’s How You Make Friends…

After nearly four months in college I am finally figuring out how to make friends. The process is strangely simple. Apparently you get someone’s number, then you text them and ask them to get coffee with you, and then magically you sort of have a friend! Who knew? The only time I remember ever actively making a friend was in first grade when a new girl entered our class and I went up to her during reading time and said “Hi, I’m Lily. We should be best friends”. (Side note #1: I was reading the autobiography of the figure skater Tara Lipinski at the time. The book mainly included lots of pictures of half naked female figure skaters. It starts young…)

But ever since I achieved that one brave social moment at the age of five I have been unable to figure out how to recreate that friend making moment. I began to count on other people and their ability to see me as a cool person who was worth trying to make their friend. Recently, when on the phone with my mother, she warned me of the consequences that this friendship making habit produces. She has struggled with a similar problem in her life—she assumed people would simply flock to her and therefore would not have to put any effort into the friendship making process. The issue is that both my mother and I look like bitches and our social anxiety is often confused with coldness or the idea that we think we are better than everyone else. Of course it is the opposite that is true.  So the next time you run into me or my mother, know that we are not being cold…we are just really scared of you!
dotted-divider2

Thanksgiving in La Floridaaa

The issue of friends and family brings me to my next point: Thanksgiving. Does anyone actually like Thanksgiving? I know I don’t. My family is very small and spread out and because my immediate family lives in South Florida this often means that Thanksgiving is spent only with people who are well over eighty years old.  This makes dinner conversation difficult because frankly it ends up being the same conversation every five minutes (remind me to never get old). Luckily the older generation does not find my attending a Woman’s College as anything weird but rather as something old-fashioned and respectable. So no talk of boys (because they know I am not going to school with them) yet no assumption of my “alternative lifestyle” because every smart girl went to prestigious women’s colleges back in the day.

“Despite my comfort in being out at school and my ability to talk about gay issues freely with anyone I met there, at home felt anxious about my sexuality in a way I haven’t felt since I came out to my mom last year.”

It is the younger family members, or rather friends who are so close that they are practically family, that I have to explain why I would ever choose to attend an all girl school. And then, if they know I’m gay, I have to explain why my sexuality is actually not the reason I go to a woman’s college in the first place. It is so frustrating!

This prompted another difficulty that I found during my time at home. I unfortunately realized that despite my comfort in being out at school and my ability to talk about gay issues freely with anyone I met there, at home felt anxious about my sexuality in a way I haven’t felt since I came out to my mom last year. (Sidenote #2: The term “coming out” freaks me out and I hate using it. I wasn’t hiding anywhere! I did not emerge from under a rock! Let’s think of something else to say people!)

Pretty much everyone at home knows. My high school, my parents, their friends, my brother, his friends…but it is not something we talk about. It is not something I feel comfortable talking about with my family or our family friends. But it is also not an issue. Everyone is super liberal and super open minded. So why does it still make me so uncomfortable?

That is a question I may have to grapple with for the rest of my life or at least until sexuality becomes a non-issue.

dotted-divider2

lily-tired

It’s Almost Winter Break, Guys! It’s that time where finals are nearing and the prospect of home is so close I can almost feel the fear of my plane ride coming into fruition. (Sidenote # 3: Planes weigh a lot. How the hell am I supposed to believe that they can be suspended in the air for hours at a time without crashing? Yeah Mary Poppins can fly, but that’s because Julie Andrews is god. I don’t care that there is some sort of science behind the plane thing, I just refuse to believe it)

I will be basking in the Florida sun for a month over break and couldn’t be more excited. New York is nice but maybe, just maybe, home will be able to put me back together into a functional (well, relatively functional) human being. Wishful thinking? We’ll see.

Profile photo of Lily

Lily has written 33 articles for us.

41 Comments

  1. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    “But it is also not an issue. Everyone is super liberal and super open minded. So why does it still make me so uncomfortable?” Ahhh I feel the same way. It’s a nonissue, but I feel SO UNCOMFORTABLE AND AWKWARD talking about it with my super liberal family. No idea why.

    And if you want more friends at home as well, holla. :)

    Good luck on exams! Lovely South FL is not so far away. :D I’m so damn antsy to go home.

    Brittany

  2. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    Yes this describes my problems exactly, and it doesn’t help that I bring a book everywhere to ensure everyone knows I’m not like TRYING to make friends or anything: “The issue is that both my mother and I look like bitches and our social anxiety is often confused with coldness or the idea that we think we are better than everyone else.”

  3. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    i got the whole social anxiety thing too. the only thing is that i have really bad unmedicated a.d.d. so when having the critical conversation where you might turn that corner and become friends or just remain semi-acquaintances, i have the habit of changing subjects without the transitions that connect them. it’s like all that stream of conscious in a portrait of the artist as a young man, but all the time.

  4. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    Achtung Baby!
    Where have I heard that?!

    *back after several seconds of pondering!*
    Tegan and Sara’s Sainthood (Not Thainthood) video, right? Ohh, what a riot.

    I understand where you’re coming from, I’m not ashamed, and my parents already know, but I know that they could never understand, and I know that all they know is the sterotypes (if they know anything anyway.) So it makes me uncomfortable to talk about it, well, with not with my mother. We talk about all the girls in my life as if its totally normal–and it is. My father on the other hand, as accepting as he tries to be, he said some pretty dumb things when he first found out I had a girlfriend. I told him I was bi but he didn’t understand. One day he came up to me and said “you ever think about giving boys a try?” Like, sir! I can’t have a bf and a gf at once! Wait. Daamnnn.

  5. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    People often think I’m a bitch. I only know this because once, through some miracle, I ended up living with a woman who told me, “You know…I always thought you were a bitch but it turns out you’re really nice and funny.” I think there are a lot of us out there like this. We should have club. Wait – I think we do…it’s called The Internet.

  6. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    Lily, I am really impressed with your ability to be so open about your experiences and feelings as a college student. I wish I had had something like this to read when I was in college! My first two years, no one even owned their own computer! We had to go use these weirdo cold computer labs in our dorms with people sitting right next to us. I think what you offering here is super valuable. Go Lily!

  7. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    Let me just say, I wish I were out from day 1 of college (but that would have involved me realizing it sooner myself) and that I could have been as open as you’re being here. I second Robin’s comments, well done!

    Very jealous of your big gay camp out- I went camping on a whim my freshman year in December with blankets instead of sleeping bags (it was a last-minute decision). Only my company were Southern Baptists so it was 11 degrees outside but by God you had better just deal with generating your own body heat because there WOULD BE NO TOUCHING. Or beer jackets. Sigh.

    You, your mom and I could start a support group. But I think I’ve gotten a bit better over the last couple years, realizing how many of the people I’m closest to now I was scared of at first. A bit.

    And I have also been crazy uncomfortable at times talking about my sexuality even with the most liberal of gay-loving liberals. I think a lot of it is just that I know that while they accept it, they didn’t expect it. That’s a lot of it for me anyway.

    And it’s uncomfortable to make people face things about you they don’t expect. And also, having to discuss it highlights that it’s something the other person doesn’t fully understand. Even if they are 100% cool with it, it’s not their personal experience. It’s different and they have to be told about it to really know it. They may not be judging it, but it highlights a distance that’s uncomfortable to feel. But I’ve found that the cases where I’ve really had in-depth (if hella uncomfortable) conversations about my sexuality, I’ve felt SO much closer to the person in the end.

    • Thumb up 0

      Please log in to vote

      “I think a lot of it is just that I know that while they accept it, they didn’t expect it. That’s a lot of it for me anyway.”

      Me too. I worry, even with people who I know are accepting, that they might think of me differently. And then there are those who are just SHOCKED! and demand an explanation.

  8. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    Hi, just passing through. I could relate to your comments about Social Anxiety, boy can that be misunderstood! I just thought I’d also mention that I go to support groups for that (Social Anxiety Anonymous), so they are actual social anxiety support groups (they have telephone conference call support groups and they have local support groups too), the website is at http://www.healsocialanxiety.com and they also have lots of free reading material at http://www.spalibrary.info

    JP

  9. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    Count me in for the social anxiety table. A couple of my good friends are social, most aren’t. When the social friends have parties, the rest of us huddle around each other… probably looks cliquey from the outside, but usually we are all talking about how freaked out we are by so many strangers!!!

    I guess blogs fill that need to reach out, but behind a wall and stuff.
    It’s safe, like women’s colleges feel.

    I totally had similar experiences with the women’s college thing. Everyone knew/thought I was gay before I did. But for me too, it was about wanting the best educational fit. People forget there was a whole respectable thing attached to women’s colleges before everyone’s minds went into the gutter.

    • Thumb up 0

      Please log in to vote

      Yeah that’s exactly what I’ve noticed with the women’s school thing.

      And actually I’ve been thinking lately about how I think going to a women’s college was the “safe” choice for me…I’ve been going to schools where women were the majority for a long time so I wonder how I would fare and a “regular” school.

  10. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    I’m totally anxious and weird about making friends too. But sometimes I wonder if I’m partially just a bitch. If it doesn’t click right away with a new person I’m over it. And I usually shut down and come up with an exit strategy.
    But if I do really want to be friends…I go about it in a weird circular way. I wait for them to ask me. Instead of just asking them to hang out I act cooler. I’m not sure how, I just carry myself a little differently. And then they end up asking me to hangout or whatever.
    And when there’s a girl I like, oh god…it’s suddenly like I know nothing about social interaction.

    I HATE INTERACTING WITH PEOPLE. i’m so awkward!

    • Thumb up 0

      Please log in to vote

      Ah I’ve been wondering the same thing about myself! Like am I just partially a bitch? I do the exact same thing when I don’t click right away with a new person…it’s terrible! I’ve been trying to stop doing that though and it’s definitely been helping me socially.

  11. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    chicas es hermoso sentirte de acuerdo con tus propias ideas;
    siempre hay un mañana y una luz en el cielo que suerte hablar contigo las hadas son un secreto y hay que cuidarlas dice la leyenda que no se debe decir que existen pues se mueren ; no no tiene nada que ver pero es subbliminar ;alguiente informara si pides informacion sobre tus sentimientos;yo por experiencia personal ;los vivo en mi familia y me parece hermoso,

Contribute to the conversation...

You must be logged in to post a comment.