We all have a coming-out-of-the-closet experience in our lives.
Every single one of us.
Breaking through the shame, the ‘shoulds,’ the limiting beliefs, and courageously stepping into who we really are.
Even when the stakes are high.
In honor of National Coming Out Day, let’s remember that before the pride of coming out is even possible, there must first be the practice of courage.
Stepping beyond a closet takes courage and courage isn’t easy. We frequently attempt to forecast the possible outcomes and weigh our next steps against these possibilities. We assess who might join us in championing our courage and who might walk the other way. Sometimes we stand still at the threshold of our truth for days, weeks, or years.
THE STAKES OF LEAVING THE CLOSETED LIFE
I know this well. I stood still, at the threshold of my truth for years.
I denied it, then I resisted it. When living my truth became more important than any loss I would endure, I moved beyond the closet doorway of shame and into the freedom of being gay.
Those potential losses of which I was afraid? Yes, they happened. Honestly too many to count. My personal coming out story is chock full of losing others and finding myself.
As a woman raised in a loving yet deeply religious family, there were (and continue to be) plenty of challenging moments where my sexuality is sadly pitted against my spirituality.
National Coming Out Day isn’t recognized widely but every October 11th, I smile deeply and take a long walk in remembrance of how far I’ve traveled to reach fresh air and freedom after spending years living in a quiet darkness.
Today, I am also thinking of the many souls still living in their own darkness, hungry to cross over into the lightness of their truth yet struggling to know how, when, and if they will survive the magnitude of loss they may (or may not) experience.
The letter below is for you, friend.
TO THE ONE IN THE CLOSET TODAY
I know it’s hard. Life is messy.
The fires of division are hot. Empathy feels like a rare commodity everywhere whereas apathy feels abundant. So does the ‘shoulds,’ shame, fear, and the staggering heat of the darkness.
Your truth feels on trial.
Scratch that. Your truth is on trial.
There is so much to weigh, so little time to figure it all out, and every choice you consider feels too expensive. But please, friend, keep moving toward the doorway.
The closet is not equipped to either nourish you nor contain the depth of your goodness.
Your brilliance cannot be tamed, shunned, shaped, or diminished by any law, moral, dogma, or virtue. Quit talking yourself out of being yourself. Begin being who you were (divinely) made to be. The permission you are looking for is your own.
I know you are scared. I feel the terror in your mind and the brokenness of your heart.
But please, please keep going, friend.
You needn’t cross the doorway today but if you’re reading this now, please move a little closer somehow, in some way.
Move just a little closer to freedom today.
Coming out—in all its forms—asks of our courage in day-to-day practice. It isn’t a one-time thing or one brave moment. It’s choosing our truth over and over, regardless of the endless perspectives around us. It’s also about getting quiet enough to hear our truth too.
You know what kind of quiet I mean, don’t you? The kind of quiet a closet loves to offer.
A small space that serves as a kind of comfort in the beginning, an echo chamber of our secrets in the middle, and sadly, can become a brutal net of emotional and spiritual suffocation at its end.
The fears are real. Full stop.
Your dream of freedom and living the fullest expression of yourself is too.
You owe us nothing. You owe them nothing—whomever them might be in your life.
Please take all the ache you feel inside right now and let it live, breathe, and heal beyond these walls. You belong out here —as you are—living in the light of day.
It will be hard, yes. It will get better too.
So come out, friend. Come out as you are.
And if you cannot come out today, please keep moving toward the door.
This closet can never hold the brilliance that is you.
I see you. I love you. I was you.
WE ALL HAVE CLOSETS OF SOME KIND.
WHAT’S YOUR COMING OUT STORY?
OR DROP YOUR THOUGHTS IN THE COMMENTS BELOW.
I’D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
An intuitive leadership and life coach for 14 years and founder of The Courage Practice®, Tonyalynne Wildhaber coaches individuals, leaders, coaches, and soulful entrepreneurs to make friends with their courage in a conscious way.
With a unique approach of integrating inner wisdom with outer strategy, she partners with you to courageously step into your highest potential, navigate challenge and transition with greater ease, and transform your abundance and life from the inside out.
Tonyalynne is a member of the Forbes Coaches Council specifically for her integrated leadership and life development approach. She is a frequent contributor to Forbes, WomELLE, and Thrive Global. She is head-over-heels in love with the Pacific Northwest, drinks iced coffee in all weather, regularly nerds out on women’s soccer, and is attempting to train a little Yorkie named Ollie.
ABOUT THE COURAGE PRACTICE ®:
The Courage Practice offers personal & professional development from a deeper place. With an inside-out, soul-to-strategy coaching approach, we guide you to make friends with your courage and intuition in the ways that matter most to you.
Join our thriving community to awaken and cultivate the courage deep within you, strengthen your relationship to your intuition, elevate your success and inner peace, and build a consistent practice to lead, live, and love more consciously.