When Jackie and Scott asked me to write this blog, I agreed before I knew that I’d be writing a personal narrative. As a journalist, my job has always been to tell someone else’s story. I almost stayed inside my comfort zone and wrote about what running means to me, but that isn’t really my story. We all have a story to tell—one that has shaped the way we see the world and hopefully left us with some wisdom to impart. This is mine.
After college, I moved to a rural town in Northern California to gain experience as a newspaper reporter. I endured 15 months of 60-plus-hour work weeks, a misanthropic and manipulative editor, and an hourly wage so low that I almost qualified for food stamps. Ultimately, it was the emotional abuse by a possessive co-worker/friend—which escalated to almost daily attacks on my character—that was the catalyst for my departure from California.
No longer feeling safe on Tidwall Street, I packed the essentials into my Nissan Sentra and decided I’d quietly return for the rest of my belongings later. I headed back to my hometown of Phoenix without a plan. Surprisingly, I landed a job at a TV station within a couple weeks. I wasn’t done paying my dues, though. The schedule consisted of nights, weekends, and holidays. Still, it was a journalism job in a major market—something my previous boss had tried to convince me I wasn’t worthy of achieving. Around the same time, my friend fixed me up with a guy who was new to Arizona. Let’s call him Matt.
Matt was my first love. We were the fun-loving couple who rarely fought, but navigating our opposite work schedules was a constant challenge. After a year and a half, I realized my schedule wasn’t going to change. I also realized I didn’t have to settle for that.
So when a hospital offered me a 9-5 position as a brand journalist and a compensation package I never expected to receive as a writer—another misconception instilled by my newspaper editor-–I felt like things were finally falling into place. I couldn’t wait to have more quality time with Matt and to take more trips like the one we’d just taken to Boston with his family. He had other plans.
During my first week at my new job, Matt came over after work. He didn’t show up with his usual overnight bag. Instead, he was carrying a small shopping bag of items I’d left at his place: facewash, a toothbrush, and the key to my apartment. He was moving to another state in a month, and I wasn’t invited. While I was envisioning our future together, he was secretly applying for a job transfer. I felt blindsided.
After a period of grief and reflection, I took the typical next step in today’s breakup sagas—I signed up for dating apps. But my subconscious had something to tell me, and I finally decided to listen. After switching my preferences back and forth, I finally left them on “seeking women.”
Dating a woman was both exciting and terrifying. It made me feel like a teenager again. But it also felt right. After only a couple dates, I told my best friends over dinner that I thought I might be gay. They were just as accepting and understanding as I expected. I’ve picked some good ones.
I felt blindsided again when the girl I had been seeing called me the day before Thanksgiving to tell me she was getting back together with her ex. Overwhelmed with emotions, I thought I might feel relieved if I talked to my biggest supporters: my parents. I couldn’t keep my voice from shaking as I told them over our turkey dinner that I thought I was more interested in women than men. My mom gave me a tearful hug and told me she loves me no matter whom I love. My dad said he was proud of me.
I continued to date women somewhat privately for the next seven months. Then a gunman opened fire at a gay nightclub in Orlando. “All the gays should be executed” and “at least it was a bunch of homos who were shot” were just a couple of the hateful comments I read on the internet. Hate forces people further into the closet by feeding their feelings of shame and fear. I decided right then that I would no longer let fear silence me, so I came out in a Facebook post.
I’ve had many people try to discredit my feelings, especially because I don’t fit the stereotype, but my supporters have been significantly louder. My post even gave a couple friends the courage to come out. Others who aren’t ready to tell the world have reached out to confide in me.
It’s been almost three years since that Facebook post, most of which I’ve spent with my now fiancée, Kristin. She’s my best friend and the reason I believe in soulmates. I can’t imagine hiding our love and happiness from the world.
So, that’s my story—at least the condensed version. I’ve learned that endings are beginnings in disguise. I’ve come to know my worth, both personally and professionally. I’ve found the courage to live authentically. Thanks to my tribe leaders for giving me a platform to share this. By writing our own narratives, we defy the ones others try to create for us.Share via socials: