On College, Freedom, And Finding Myself

The films, the books, the TV shows – they all say that college is an unforgettable time of your life. There is some degree of truth to that. It doesn’t take long to get wrapped up in new found freedom, to sway to its tunes and bathe in the changing colours of its light. School, for many, is as heavy as the backpack we carried to it everyday. I’d be lying if I said I was one of these people – because I had everything. A loving group of friends, with whom I could spill my entire heart and more, teachers who made sure the bridge we walked was steady and strong. And yet, those first steps outside the four walls I gave my adolescence to was the breath of fresh air I didn’t know I needed.

It was amidst all of this that I realised I was bisexual. The word felt heavy at the time. It was a reality I didn’t want to grapple and fight with. I consider myself lucky that the realisation came when it did. As I began to put together my new found identity as a college student, my sexuality was the final piece that fell into place. And the picture looked just right. Because I am not fragments of my childhood and teen years, I am a whole, and every part of myself I discover falls into place like it was meant to sit right where I put it. Some pieces are hard to place, though, as this one was for me. It stuck out sharp at first, jagged ends piercing my sides. But once I found a home for it – it settled like it had always belonged within me.

So I started telling my friends. First, the childhood best friend I could trust with my life. Then came the family I had been lucky enough to hold onto even after school. Finally, the new group of girls from college who I felt like I had known forever. And one day, I know it will be every kind face I meet, every warm smile flashed without the hesitation of judgment. Because I still remember the grin my new friend wore when she found out they had an LGBTQ+ club in college, and to this day, I never tire of seeing it.

That club didn’t get very far in the two years I was there. But every stranger that made it to our meetings meant something to me, something I would hold on to in times where hope for acceptance felt like a shot in the dark, and I second guessed every piece of that intricate puzzle until it crumbled at my feet. It was the kind eyes and pretty laughs and bear hugs I had collected in those first few months of college that would help me pick up the pieces and put the picture back together every time it fell.

And let me tell you – there are many times I’ve had to do that, even three years down the line. I’ve learned that life, unfortunately, is not as easy as a neat little puzzle. It’s more like shards of broken glass. But sometimes, some people come along who don’t mind if you bleed a little while putting yourself back together. And I am so blessed to have found them.

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Student of English Literature, reader of Nietzsche and Stephen King, writer in progress.
Neeharika Nene

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