LGBTQIA+ youth face unique challenges as well as many common issues such as depression, anxiety, or relationship struggles. Sometimes, you may feel worried, invalidated, or that you are not accepted by friends or family. It can be hard navigating these years, feeling unsupported or wanting to feel confident in who you are.
With that being said, you are deserving of feeling worthy. And just know, you are not alone in feeling this way! It is normal to feel that you could use extra support in finding yourself, and feeling good about yourself.
Whatever your situation may be now, there are ways to cope and seek out community. It is important to remember through it all that your identity is valid and loveable! It can feel scary now, being young and trying to find your place in your community. But with the right support and coping skills, you can be the best and most authentic version of yourself.
We’ve gathered 4 tips for LGBTQIA+ youth to implement on a regular basis that should help. First, understand that it’s okay to struggle with difficult feelings. Feelings such as sadness, frustration, or nervousness will come and go – and you can learn to sit with them and manage them.
Next, seek out support from communities. That could be with family, friends, affirming therapists, or LGBTQIA+ groups (online or in the local area). Find creative and enjoyable ways to express yourself. This can be through creating art, poetry, music, and more.
Check out our blog on “What is LGBTQIA+ Affirmative Therapy?”.
Understand that it’s okay to struggle with difficult feelings
You may notice yourself experiencing difficult feelings. This can look like feeling stuck, hopeless, scared, anxious, frustrated, and much more. It doesn’t feel good to feel this way, and you’re wanting to find a way to feel better.
The first step towards feeling better is to understand that all of your feelings are okay. You don’t have to feel happy all the time. A part of life is riding the waves of the ups and downs. When you can sit through difficult times from the beginning to end and draw on strategies to cope, you will know that you can make it through. You may even feel stronger and more resilient.
When you are struggling with difficult feelings, you can practice telling yourself positive and hopeful statements. It can be hard to be kind and caring to yourself when you are experiencing negativity, either within yourself or from external sources.
When you notice yourself feeling down, support yourself, even if it feels forced or out of your comfort zone. For example, if you are feeling nervous or sad, you can say, “It’s okay that I’m feeling this way. I will take my time to process this and be patient with myself, because I am worthy”.
LGBTQIA+ affirmative therapy offers you a safe space to learn how to process difficult feelings. You can also learn how to identify when they’re arising, whether through negative thoughts or changes in your bodily cues. This could look like increased heart rate, rapid breathing, and/or tension in your chest, shoulders, neck, or throat.
“You cannot stop the waves, but you can learn how to ride them.”
Find support through community
You can find community through family, friends, or outside sources. Seek out people at your school such as counselors, affirming clubs, or after-school activities that you feel comfortable being yourself around. This could be in settings such as art, theater, music, a TV or movie club, and more. You may find yourself naturally gravitating more towards like-minded, affirming, and kind peers.
There are also various LGBTQIA+ youth groups, either online or held in-person. In Ventura County, CA, a few groups include Spectrum Collaborative or Diversity Collective. By getting involved in these groups, you are likely to connect with others who you can relate to and be your fullest self around.
Social media can also help you get connected with other LGBTQIA+ youth. This can be through TikTok, Discord, and more. Remember to be safe and remain aware on social media! Connect with people your age and those who you are familiar with in-person when possible.
Teen therapy in Simi Valley, CA supports teens in finding their community. This happens through understanding your unique individuality as well as interests and activities you enjoy. Teen therapy also helps you explore your feelings and identity, and learn skill sets for socializing, self-advocating, and more that you can benefit from.
“No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.” – Alice Walker
Expressing yourself validates your identity, and can make you feel more confident and comfortable! You can express yourself in a number of ways. One way might be through your outward presentation. For instance, maybe you can get that haircut you have always wanted! You may also explore and experiment with adding new clothes to your closet that are affirming and more aligned with how you feel inside, for example.
Other than dressing and styling yourself to express yourself, you can do so through various forms of art. Whether that’s drawing or painting, writing songs, doing makeup tutorials, creating poetry or stories, or participating in theater. Get creative and curious about finding inspiration and what feels good to you.
“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifetime romance.” – Oscar Wilde
Talk to someone that you trust
It could be that your family or friends make you feel ashamed or tell you that you are confused. You don’t feel that you can be yourself around them. It feels like you have to hide who you are, in fear that they may put you down or not accept you.
You can end up feeling overwhelmed and hopeless because of this. Facing constant negativity and criticism is not good for you, and it can affect your mental health in a number of ways. It’s important to find people that you trust who you can talk to. Consider seeking support from online platforms such as the Trevor Project that focus on helping LGBTQIA+ youth navigate difficult times.
Don’t discount extended family, friends, teachers, or counselors – sometimes finding support doesn’t mean you have to go far. You can find support at local LGBTQIA+ youth groups, or with an LGBTQIA+ affirmative therapist. There are many, many people out there that have gone through what you are experiencing. It can offer comfort to hear others’ stories and where they are today.
It is not your job to educate people on what your gender identity or sexual orientation means. In times where they are open-minded, curious, or supportive, it can be validating for yourself to share more personal information or help educate them about your own experiences. But when others are rude or judgmental, you do not need to be put in an uncomfortable position or justify yourself.
When you talk to someone that you trust, you know that you can be yourself and be vulnerable with them. Ask for what you need from them and for reassurance that you will be supported and cared for. It can offer you a safe space to share difficult feelings and know that you are being heard.
Check out our blog on “How to Be Responsible for Your Mental Health“. It is a guide for teens!
Therapy at our office in Simi Valley is ideal for those seeking a separate, safe space from their home. You will feel comfortable as an LGBTQIA+ youth knowing that you are supported here.
By seeking out support, you can begin your journey to feeling relief. You don’t have to go through finding the right level of support alone, either.
Seek out a validating, safe environment with us today. We will help you get to where you want to be. Our therapists provide teen therapy, individual adult therapy, LGBTQIA+ therapy, anxiety therapy, depression therapy, family therapy, and more in-office in Simi Valley, CA.