Written by Amy Scalia
There are lots of ways to get comfortable. Curling up under a cozy blanket, wearing your super-soft favorite tee, or soaking in a relaxing bath after a long day. But being comfortable in your own skin is the most comforting feeling of all.
At UpWest, our purpose is to provide comfort for body, mind and spirit. For us, comfort starts with each individual and it’s why we believe in the importance of finding comfort in yourself. This is especially critical for those who are part of the LBGTQIA+ community, who face cultural obstacles in being their true selves.
UpWest chatted with four influencers in the LBGTQIA+ community about their experience and advice for finding comfort in yourself: Manny, a self-proclaimed out and proud, queer, Latinx man; Kaelyn, who identifies as a lesbian; Jaron, who identifies as a gay man; and Jackie, who prefers not to label her sexuality. “Every letter in the LGBTQIA+ fits me in some kind of way,” Jackie adds. “Maybe, I’m the +.”
Be Your True Self
Manny says if your identity strays from the mainstream - whatever it may be - then be proud of it. “You are the one and only you,” he adds. “Strive every day to be the best person you can be and remind yourself of the positive qualities and attributes that make you uniquely who you are. Best advice I received was, ‘If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell can you love somebody else?’”
For Kaelyn, she says being her authentic self is the most comforting feeling in the world. “Finding the little things that put me at ease and allow me to feel rested really helps,” she says. “That can be anything from knowing when to cancel plans to stay home and lounge on the couch to a hot bath to knowing when to call up a friend and ask for advice. Finding comfort in myself really came from knowing who I am.”
Jackie says it comes down to just being honest with yourself. “The most important part of this journey that I have been holding close is the act of being honest with myself,” she says. “Even if there is nobody else in the world that I’m letting in, if I have me and I know me, then I am okay,” she adds.
Listening to that inner voice isn’t always easy though, especially in the digital age, Jaron says. “People try to compare themselves to others as a benchmark, but that’s exactly what not to do. Everyone has their own unique beauty and talents, and we need to honor these attributes. Daily reflections and meditations have really helped me shut out the outside noise and focus on being the best me that I can.”
He also enjoys a good run to quiet the noise. “I find the most comfort in myself when I am running,” Jaron says. “When I am out on a run it’s just me and my music, I can let go of all the stress of my day and truly relax.”
Kaelyn says spending time with yourself like this is the best way to learn the things you like and dislike. “Find a self-care activity that works for you. It can be exercise, a hot bath, therapy, cooking, really anything, but find something that allows you just to be,” she explains. “Practice gratitude. I know that may seem a little overdone, but even if it something little, adding a bit of positivity to your day can only help. When I’m too hard on myself, I often think about how my dog acts when I first get home from work, and it makes me so happy!”
It’s all about creating a safe space for yourself, Jackie says. “To find yourself, you need to create a safe space for yourself to show up in. I believe that we already have everything that we need. Life and the world and the people around us bring it out,” she says. “Questioning your faith? Love. Questioning your sexuality? Love. Afraid that you did something wrong? Love. Just like in other relationships, the more you can be honest with yourself about and receive love in response, the more of yourself you show.”
Love Who You Are
Although Manny is the picture of proud and confident, he says he still often needs the reminder that it’s ok to love yourself. “I embrace my strengths and my flaws. It sounds narcissistic but loving yourself is not self-indulgent,” he shares. “The more confident you are, the more likely you will feel comfortable showing other people the real you!”
Getting comfortable telling others about the real you can be a challenging journey. “Coming out can be very stressful for a lot of people and I think that you should do everything on your own timeline,” Jaron says. “There is no right or wrong way to do it. I have had friends who have had large celebrations and others who have flown under the radar, it is whatever you are most comfortable with that matters the most.”
Kaelyn agrees that it’s important to move at your own pace and follow your timeline. “Don’t let anyone, or anything, rush you,” she adds. “The best advice I received before coming out was to practice! I had a queer friend in college who told me that practice coming out was the best thing they did, so before I told my family, I remember practicing in a mirror to get comfortable saying the words out loud. Remember that you are the most important person in the conversation, so be authentic to yourself!”
Jackie says the first step before approaching others is to love yourself. “Do everything that you can do to make sure that how they respond will not change how you see yourself first,” she suggests. “Develop an unshakeable love and affirmation for yourself first, so that that won’t change based on their response. Let your love for you be what determines if you’re loved and okay, not what they say.”
Kaelyn admits she struggled when she was first figuring out her sexuality, but It Gets Better was there to light the way. “It Gets Better was an invaluable resource for me in helping me understand who I was and hearing stories from other queer people who have come out,” she recalls.
All four influencers are collaborating with UpWest for an initiative that supports the It Gets Better Project, a nonprofit organization with a mission to uplift, empower, and connect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer youth around the world.
“I’m a huge believer in uplifting empowering and connecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) youth around the globe,” Manny says. “It’s very empowering to be a part of such an impactful campaign! When you live authentically, it truly does get better!"
“I sometimes feel that pride month can be overwhelming to people who may not be entirely out or feel comfortable with their sexuality or gender identity. I love that this campaign comes down to being comfortable being you, whatever that means to each of us individually! I LOVE It Gets Better. Plus, the clothing is REALLY cozy!”