Nicole Flynn

South Africa

“Your story is the key that can unlock someone else’s prison. Stop letting shame silence your testimony.”

Lesbian + Pansexual / 18-22 / White / Christian

“juste être.” It means “just be” in French.
Beautiful isn’t it?

For so long now I’ve held onto this, I’ve etched it onto my heart; and told myself that this was my mantra for life – that I was going to be myself fearlessly and unapologetically, authentic; regardless of what anyone has to say except the star breather Himself.

But the truth is, my life has been a series of everything but that.
For so long now I’ve hid behind a facade; this perfect persona I’ve created. The lies and tainted versions of myself hung up for show and tell. My life, one big [socially acceptable] masquerade. A role play of the century.

These past few months more than ever, I’ve felt the walls within crumbling and closing in on me, the pain I tried so hard to hide seeping through the once believable fake smiles. This thing I’ve spent my whole life running away from.

“I can feel you slipping away, as you push me farther and farther away” echoed the voices of people my heart held most dear. First my mom, then my best friend. Still, I couldn’t utter the words that would answer their distress. That would set me free. These seemingly simple words that would change everything, words that could also possibly shatter my entire world. But I couldn’t, I couldn’t bare to face this truth about myself. To utter the two simple words that would alter my life forever.

I became engulfed in this feeling of numbness but at the same time so overwhelmed by this deep, coherent, searing pain – all from this lie I had made my truth. – Which is that I am a mistake. The fear that I am unlovable simply because I cannot change who I am for the sake of societal norms. This lie that “it is a choice,” something that is my fault somehow, that it is a spiritual battle to be fought.

But I can’t do this anymore. I won’t.

Today, I say no to being silenced. I say no to shame. No to being someone I’m not for the sake of others.
Today, I say yes to self love, to living authentically regardless of what comes my way. Today I make my 8yr old self proud. – I take off my mask and proudly and openly embrace my place in the LGBTQ+ community – thank you for welcoming me with open arms even when I was still in the closet; still in denial, and broken in my pursuit to live a lie.

Thank you so much to all of you who supported me throughout this entire journey. You mean the world to me Thank you for choosing to see me for who I am and have always been, and seeing my heart before any label or box society places me in.
Thank you for educating yourself on something you maybe didn’t understand before, something you had an entirely different view of. I am in awe of your open mindedness, support and love, and I honestly cannot even comprehend where I would’ve been without you.
?? ??And last but certainly not least, thank you to My savior for not giving up on me even when I gave up on Him countless times, in my restless pursuit of prayers that would make me fit the mold of societal perfection..
For proving me wrong every time I felt alone in this struggle, and the world considered it too taboo of a topic to even speak about. ? When I suffered silently and restlessly, His presence came in whispers of grace and comfort, especially when I felt at a loss as to the “why’s” and “how’s” amidst overwhelming hurt, loneliness and uncertainty.
I find rest in the notion of taking on this journey with Him as my confidence, and that He remains my truth; wherein my identity lies first and foremost.
I was in such a broken place for such a long time, and as cheesy as it sounds quoting ‘Love Simon’ but it sums it up best – “when you were little you were so carefree, but these last few years, more and more, it’s almost like I could feel you holding your breath.. you get to exhale now Simon”

And it truly is the best feeling in the world to finally exhale ?