This essay comes from “It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living,” a collection of original essays and testimonials written to teens from celebrities, political leaders, and everyday people. This one was written by popular blogger, A. Y. Daring from Canada. You can purchase a copy of the book, or donate one to a local school or library, through our store.

“Regardless of what country you live in, regardless of where you’re from, or what you look like, or who you are, once you are out of that phase called high school, it gets better. People stop treating you like a child. They start respecting your opinion. But even more than that, I think what happens, or at least what happened to me, is that I proved to myself that that wasn’t as good as it gets. When I was in the tenth and eleventh grade, right after I came out, I used to sit and cry all the time because I felt so alone. I thought I would never find anyone who got me or who was like me. I’m black and I’m queer. Where the hell am I going to find people like me? You know what I mean? I was living in Burlington, Ontario, after all!

“When I graduated, I moved to a bigger city and enrolled at a massive university, where our campus queer and questioning committee is about to celebrate their fortieth anniversary. It’s the longest-running queer campus organization in the whole of Canada. So during all those years in high school, when I was sitting there wondering who would possibly understand me, and why I couldn’t find them– turns out, they had been here the whole time, just waiting for me to get through high school and to get up the courage to leave that awful place behind.

“Everyone who has supported me, everyone who loves me for who I am– exactly the way I am– they have always been here, too. They weren’t born the day I came out, or even the month before I came out. They’ve been here with open arms just waiting for me to come alive and realize my potential. And all the people who are going to be there for you on the other side, they’re walking around right now wondering where you are. And they’re waiting excitedly with open arms for the day you finally have that diploma and you can get out of there and go on to something better.

“I can attest to the fact that I honestly, legitimately, literally do not know of a single queer adult who graduated from high school and went on to bigger cities and bigger schools– better, more accepting places– and didn’t eventually find a place where they belonged… where they belong.

“When you’re young– and granted, I’m just a second-year student myself– everything feels like the end of the world because you haven’t seen how good it can get. By the time you graduate from high school, four out of eighteen years can feel like a pretty significant percentage of your life. But four out of forty years, or four out of fifty years, or sixty years of amazing-ness is absolutely nothing.

“So, in the meantime, you’ve got to hold your head up and you’ve got to look for the light at the end of your tunnel. Because it’s there, even if you don’t always recognize it or you can’t always find it, it’s there all the same, and always has been. And don’t forget those people who are there to support you. They’re so, so excited to finally get to meet you, they are waiting with open arms. Good luck, guys. See you on the better side!

A. Y. Daring is a young glamorous, and adventuresome jetsetter. When not gallivanting around the globe and putting out forest fires, she’s a full-time university student with a major in philosophy and two minors in business and French. In her spare time, she writes about how to be fabulous and successful at and does choreography for Lady Gaga on weekends.