Before we get into this story I have to get somethings straight: I’m not.

I was born into the stereotypical Asian immigrant household. I was their first child holding all these expectations and fear of bringing dishonor to the family name. For a fact, it was never on my own terms to come out when I was a high school freshman. I kind of fell face first out of the closet. I got caught with a girlfriend by her mother who hated my guts. We were just holding hands. You have to understand that anything can happen in a hundredth of a second.

I can’t tell the rest of what happened because this is not just my story. You’re free to imagine what did happen though. It was enough for a teacher, the principal and the police to get involved. It was a Friday night and I lived on the other side of town, so the principal called my Mom to pick me up since I had missed my city bus. On the drive home, my Mom pestered me about why I was there and what kind of trouble I got into. I never wanted her to find out this way. On the edge of tears, I yelled it as our car continued to speed home.

Everything was going too fast and before I knew it, I was home. I locked myself in my room. Then my Dad called me. He was overseas, still. I told him. I cried and I begged him if he still loved me. I never wanted it to be this way. The dishonor and disappointment was in the atmosphere. It felt like my life was crumbling into pieces. A few months after that situation, I broke up with that toxic girlfriend.

Life tip: Get rid of toxic people in your life. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life; know your worth! I would later date a few other girls here and there. I moved to a new State, new city. I hated California because it wasn’t my home but I found someone who made me feel like I was—that I was finally home. If soulmates were real, she was it for me.

But high school love will remain just that; naive kids playing with things they don’t completely understand. Yet love exists. It’s out there. Do not lose hope on that. Time went on and the saying that “time heals all wounds” seemed to be proven true. Today, my parents remind me not to get into trouble like that ever again. I never introduce my parents to a girlfriend because I’m supposed to still follow the “no dating until education is done!” rule.

My family can tell who I’m dating though but they don’t really say anything. My Mom told me that all they ever want for me is my happiness and I’m glad. Last month was Pride in my city and I didn’t go this year because I didn’t have anyone to go with. It warms my heart though that my parents wondered why I didn’t go. Nowadays, I don’t hang out in the back of school holding some girl’s hand. I hold their hand while we cross the street on crosswalks and bridges; out and proud.

Things do get better. People who’ve gone through this are living proof. If you’re in a tough spot, it will eventually get better. You are strong. You are determined. You are confident. You are proud. You are loved. You have pride. It will be okay.

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