The path to knowing and loving who you are


Jacob Jardel

Jacob Jardel
Assistant Managing Editor

The concept of identity can mean vastly different things to different people.

For example, to some people, I am the Assistant Managing Editor of the Collegian. I come in and interview you about an award you won, the performance of your team or your new annual event. I take some pictures, I write some words and I distribute some papers.

To my professors, I am a graduate student working on a master’s in Behavioral Sciences. I go to class, write papers, do research and act as a therapist in class vignettes – all en route to a degree and an eventual career studying sexuality and romance.

To a completely different group, I am that one Jacob guy from the Mind Games team who, thank your favorite deity, is just coaching this year because he would give you heart attacks in matches passed. Not trying to brag, but this situation actually happened recently.

To many, I am Jake – the friend, the son, the brother, the intellectual other half, the male equivalent, the ride or die and everything in between.

These descriptors listed, while accurate, are identifiers that define me in relation to other people. They are not the alpha and omega of how I define myself.

I am a Hufflepuff. I am loyal, friendly, accepting of most anyone and serious about the Harry Potter house into which I was sorted.

I am a Nerdfighter. I am made of awesome and seek to decrease world-suck while using words like “doobilydoo” and measuring my stress levels with my hair’s puff levels like John Green.

I am a Whovian. I am a firm believer that time is a wibbly-wobbly ball of timey-wimey stuff and that everything in the universe can be fascinating and frightening at the same time.

I am a Sexplainaut. I am sex positive and look to help educate the world into understanding of the myriad facets of romance and sexuality, following host Dr. Lindsey Doe’s motto: “Stay curious.”

All of these descriptors make up my identity and make me proud to be idiosyncratic me. I accept my identity: I know who I am, and I like who I am – even though it took me years of counseling and reassurance to be comfortable with it. My inner thoughts and feelings are congruent with my outer representation.

Unfortunately, some are not in that place.

Oct. 11 is National Coming Out Day, an international day of civil awareness for those whose identities include being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual or otherwise queer in the sense of gender or sexual identity. It is a day in which those in the LGBTQ community can celebrate their identities without having to closet themselves or their identifiers.

It is an international day of identity congruence.

However, we live in the Bible Belt – some would argue the Buckle of the Bible Belt. While times have changed and more people are accepting and understanding of those in the LGBTQ community, the air of intolerance and judgment remain.

Many people have relatives who do not accept their identities. Others have relatives they have not come out to because they fear the ramifications of something that, frankly, should not have ramifications. Still, others have relatives who have refused to speak to them because of an innate part of their identities.

Then there are those who are no longer alive because of the ridicule received because of their identities.

Because intolerance and ridicule still exist, days like National Coming Out Day remain essential in the plight to end said intolerance and ridicule. While we should celebrate congruence in identity and positive awareness of the LGBTQ community daily, an opportunity to celebrate these things in one day make it easier for others to become congruent.

It can be a tough road to identity congruence, toward accepting your identity as a person. There can be parts you are not proud of or parts that may not be easy for others to fathom or agree with. It can be especially hard if those parts come from incorrect negative assumptions that your identity is incorrect.

But you cannot underestimate the power of accepting your own identity. It may not come overnight, it may not come easily, but when that acceptance comes, the road to congruence becomes that much easier. Though some people may not like it, there will always be people who will love you for you who truly are.

More importantly, you can and will love yourself for who you truly are.


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