It is really important to feel good about yourself, but this can be hard for gay teens. Here are some ways GLBT young people can deal with issues like stress and depression and boost self-esteem and self-confidence.
Develop Your Self-Esteem
Unfortunately, GLBT youth may suffer from low self esteem both for reasons related to being a teen, as well as for reasons related to their sexual orientation. For example, it can be hard to feel good about yourself if you don't have a good support system, if you encounter rejection, or if you are the victim of homophobia. But that doesn't mean that you can't be gay and feel awesome about who you are. It just might take a bit of work.
About's Guide to Teen Advice recommends a few important ways to build self-esteem. They are:
- Take inventory of your strengths.
- Realize your limits.
- Stop putting yourself down.
- Celebrate progress and small victories.
- Pat yourself on the back every day.
GLBT teens should also keep in mid there are some really great things about being gay. For example, being freed from many of society's rigid gender expectations, being part of a community that you would never have discovered otherwise, having a special connection to partners, and experiencing opposite gender friendships without worrying about dating or sexual tension.
Gay teens might also find it hard to feel good about themselves if they are overwhelmed and stressed out. Now, everyone feels stress in life and that is totally normal. In fact, a certain amount of stress can actually be helpful as a motivator. But too much stress is a killer.
Gay teens may have stresses common to all teens, (like school, family, dating and friends). They also often have specific stresses related to their sexual orientation. These may include:
- Coming out or staying closested.
- Trying to meet other gay youth for friendship or dating.
- Anti-gay bullying.
- Family rejection.
- Religious rejection.
One of the best ways to deal with stress is to identify the cause. Once you do that, it becomes a lot easier to de-stress by tackling the issue head on.
The Guide to Pediatrics also offers some good ways to de-stress in general. According to him, it is important to learn different ways to relax, including, "diaphragmatic breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, visual imagery, listening to music, reading, keeping a journal, and drawing."
Deal With Depression
Of course for some GLBT teens, it isn't just low self-esteem or stress that is making it hard to feel good about themselves, it's actually a medical problem like depression.
As with feelings of stress and low self-esteem, external causes (like being rejected by family or society for being gay, or being a victim of bullying or harassment) can lead to depression. But in some cases, depression has no obvious cause. Either way, talking to a GLBT-friendly counselor about how you are feeling can be a great first step towards feeling a whole lot better.
A lot of gay teens don't feel as good about themselves as they should, but just because this is common, doesn't mean it is inevitable!