If you are in search of self-help information, please check out the topics listed here. We anticipate adding to this section as we receive feedback on emerging challenges and strengths that inform life on campus.
- Adjustment (college, cultural, and family relationships)
- Alcohol & Drugs
- Anger Management
- Anxiety & Stress
- Depression & Grief
- Eating & Body-Image
- Help Someone Else
- Learning & Academic Concerns (test anxiety, time management, concentration)
- Perfectionism & Self-Compassion
- Relationships & Break-Ups
- Suicide Prevention
ADJUSTMENT (COLLEGE, CULTURAL & FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS)
Starting college is often associated with a mixture of feelings. At times you may feel exhilaration, hope, or excitement, while at other times you may feel a sense of sadness, anxiety or uncertainty.
It can be daunting to leave the security of family and friends. Again, like much in life, it involves a mixture of loss and opportunity. The losses can include moving away from friends with whom you have shared experiences or moving away from romantic partners. You may be facing the challenges of a long-distance relationship, being separated from old friends, and parting with people whom you have a shared history. However, starting college can also offer you a lot of exciting opportunities, such as meeting people from large and small communities, people with varied interests, and even people from across the world! Your new friends may be different from your old friends but your horizons will be opened up to new and exciting prospects.
Balancing work and social life. College offers an assortment of opportunities for both advancement and distraction. There are so many potential friends, parties, courses, things to do, and places to go. Wanting to take part in all the fun and keep up with academic demands may lead you to feel overwhelmed.
Moving to a large campus where others don't know you or your background, can be an opportunity for a fresh start. However, it may also be uncomfortable at times as it may cause you to begin to question aspects of your identity and challenge your beliefs. As you are exposed to new ideas and different experiences, you may begin to re-evaluate your views on a variety of topics.
Here are some steps for making a successful transition to college:
- Be patient. It can take a while to adjust, and takes time to understand the rhythm of a new academic life and to develop personal learning and studying styles. Over the first semester it becomes easier to understand the flow of work and how to meet different teachers' standards and course requirements.
- Personalize the experience. It's easy for students to feel lost in the crowd. Students who take advantage of tools and resources available to them have an easier transition to college life. Getting to know professors and other college staff will personalize your college experience and help you feel more connected to the university.
- Try to balance the old and familiar with the new and challenging. Staying in touch with old friends and family can be helpful, but be sure to reach out to new friends and support networks too.
- Challenge yourself.Try to have at least one new experience a week. See a play or a movie you wouldn't normally see. Go to a concert on campus, or visit a campus museum, or try a new sport.
- Participate and prioritize. No one can do everything. When students narrow their focus they often feel less overwhelmed. Finding a passion is one of the most exciting aspects of the college experience.
For many students, arriving in a new place can be both exciting and anxiety provoking. This may be a common reaction for many students moving to a new community, and especially challenging for those moving to a radically different culture.
Most students will experience an adjustment period after moving to a new culture or place. You may find the language, weather, geography, food, and ways of relating to others strange or even inferior to what you’re used to. For others, everything may seem great at first. It’s only after more time has passed that you begin to feel the symptoms of cultural shock.
Coping with culture shock:
- Get enough sleep, exercise, and eat well. When stress increases, you may forget to take care of yourself. During an initial move or big change, it is especially important to take care of basic needs.
- Take a minute to appreciate your accomplishments. Recognize what is going well. Congratulate yourself on everything you have already accomplished—it’s not easy. And reflect on the strength that is required to make such a move.
- Seek out other students of your same cultural and ethnic background. Share special food preparations and traditions from your home country with others. On campus, you’ll find many cultural centers, resources, and clubs where you can share experiences with others who may be going through similar situations.
- Be patient.Even though it may seem that you are the only one dealing with such challenges, you are not alone. There are many students who struggle with acculturation and adjustment when coming to a new place. This adjustment will take time and it takes practice to feel comfortable with new customs.
- Talk about what you are experiencing. It can be helpful to find someone with whom you can share reactions and experiences, both positive and negative. Friends and family can offer good advice and support during a difficult time. Telephone and email offer the possibility of instant comfort and support from someone who cares about you. You can also speak with a counselor at the UM Counseling Center or attend the International Student Support Group.
While there are many changes occurring in your new life, there will also be changes in your existing relationships with parents and other significant people. New students often face the challenge of juggling newly formed relationships with already established ones. It can be difficult to balance a sense of connectedness and separation while at college.
You and your parents may fear losing aspects of your relationship with each other. You may notice that you call home frequently especially during the first few months away. It may be hard to say goodbye at the end of holidays or semester breaks. It may also be difficult to readjust to curfews, chores, or care for younger siblings on visits home.
- Remember that it is normal for relationships to change during this transition. Give yourself some time to adjust to a new relationship dynamic.
- Discuss the differing expectations you may have with your family regarding house rules. You cannot expect your parents to forget all the parental concerns they have been practicing for many years, but you can negotiate new rules (e.g., curfew). However, don't expect your parents to grant all of your requests.
- Communicate with your family and let them know about your plans before you arrive home. Your parents will have an idea of what you would like to do and will be less likely to plan all of your time for you. If you will be splitting time with various family members, establish your plans ahead of time and inform everyone.
- Understand that you will make compromises with your time.
- Office of Multicultural Student Affairs
- Department of Student Activities and Student Organizations
- Student Organizations:
- African Students Union
- Asian American Students Association
- Bahamian Students Association
- Brazilian Students Association
- Caribbean Students Association
- Chinese Student and Scholar Association
- Colombian Students Association
- Council of International Students and Organizations
- Der Deutsche Klub (The German Club)
- Filipino Student Association
- Hong Kong Student Association
- Indian Students Association
- Organization for Jamaican Unity
- Planet Kreyol-Haitian Student Organization
- Russian and Eastern European Club
- Saudi Students Association
- Union Venezolana
- United Black Students
ALCOHOL & DRUGS
When use of alcohol and other substances becomes chronic and/or excessive, it may begin to affect your academic progress, relationships, as well as mental and physical health. If you have questions or concerns about whether your own level of use is healthy, consider visiting the Counseling Center or taking an anonymous online alcohol self-screening. While there is no specific measurement to determine when substance use crosses the line from social and fun to unhealthy, the following signs may indicate that a problem exists.
Recognize the Signs of a Problem (*the greater the number of signs means the greater the concern)
- You have difficulty controlling how much you drink/use and don't respect limits you set for yourself.
- Friends, family members or others have expressed concerns about your use.
- You go to class or work under the influence.
- You have been injured or have caused injury to someone else as a result of your substance use.
- You have had legal or disciplinary problems as a result of your substance use.
- You have experienced blackouts or brownouts (memory lapses) as a result of your substance use.
- Substance use has affected your daily functioning, e.g. class or work attendance or performance, relationships, attention, or memory.
- You have done things you later regret under the influence.
- While under the influence, you engage in high-risk behaviors such as drinking and driving, having unprotected sex, binge drinking, etc.
- You regularly think about alcohol/drugs and when you can next drink/use.
- You feel reliant on alcohol or drugs, e.g. drink in the morning, can’t go without smoking for a day, feel you need to drink or get high in certain situations etc.
Anger is one of the most universal and intense human emotions. It is an instinctive response to feeling threatened. When we become angry our bodies change to meet the threat by preparing us to fight or to flee (e.g. muscles tense, heart rate increases, breathing speeds up). Anger is often a sign that something is not right. Anger can let you know that you are being hurt, whether that be physically or emotionally. Anger can also tell you that your needs are not being met. Anger is just an emotion which is neither good nor bad; it is what you do with it that counts.
Anger can have unwanted side effects. It can lead to difficulties in relationships, health problems, poor work performance and legal problems. Anger is also connected with aggression and violence. While anger can be an empowering emotion, aggression is an action that is intended to cause injury, harm or damage.
Reasons why you may get angry:
There are many different triggers that may set off anger and everyone’s triggers are different. What angers one person may only mildly annoy another and vice versa. Following are some examples of situations in which many of us are likely to get angry:
- You or someone you love has been hurt.
- You do not pass an exam or a class.
- Something has been taken away from you, perhaps a break up, the loss of a job, or the death of a loved one.
- You feel disrespected by others.
- Someone cuts you off while driving.
- Your space has been violated. This could be someone sitting too close to you, or use of your things without permission
- You feel that a serious injustice has been done.
In each of the above cases, we may become angry because we perceive that something wrong has been done. During the seconds that our anger takes over, we do not generally stop to think about whether our anger is justified. During that time, our body is busy going through the physiological responses to anger.
Following are some tips for dealing with anger in an adaptive and productive manner:
- Count to ten. Pause and count to 10 or more when you are in the heat of anger and feel out of control. By forcing yourself to pause, you can break the momentum of anger, and think about how you want to respond rather than react from a strong and overwhelming physical and emotional state.
- Use delaying tactics. When someone you know has triggered your anger, you may not be thinking clearly at the moment and can feel out of control. Therefore, saying something such as, “I am very upset now. I need to take a few minutes to think about this and will talk with you later about what happened.” may be a good idea. Just having the self-control to delay your expression will give you more self-confidence, relief and satisfaction.
- Responding with care. Examine your options for behaving when you are angry, and visualize how you might respond. Recognize that you are responsible for your anger. Situations may contribute to you feeling angry, but you are responsible for how you behave. You may be legitimately and appropriately frustrated with something, but you don't have to be inappropriately hostile or hurtful to others. You are bigger than your feelings and can make choices about how you respond. Work on developing more positive behaviors to replace the negative ones.
- Spend the energy. If the situation that you are in does not allow for discussion, now or later, but it leaves you bursting with anger, the fastest way to get relief is to physically release the energy. Vigorous physical activity such as running, weight-lifting or aerobics can be an amazing way to release anger. Expending the energy can leave you with a general sense of relief and even calmness.
- Assertive communication. Help the person to see how their behavior is affecting you in a way that they can hear and is not threatening. Use "I statements" that describe how you feel, rather than accusing the other person.
- Journaling. Keeping a journal to write down your feelings can also be very therapeutic in processing your anger.
ANXIETY & STRESS
While anxiety and stress may feel uncomfortable, these emotions can actually be beneficial. Anxiety refers to feelings of worry and nervousness, while stress can be feelings of pressure or tension. They both trigger bodily responses that keep us alert and even give us energy to deal with threatening or challenging situations. Feeling reasonable amounts of anxiety, before an exam for example, can help us to take the exam seriously and give us the focus we require to complete the exam in an efficient manner. At times when our workload is especially high however, anxious and stressful feelings can be particularly overwhelming. High levels of stress and anxiety not only have a negative impact on your academic, social and family life, but are also detrimental to your health and well-being.
Coping with anxiety and stress:
- Stay focused on the present.
- Exercise. Being physically active can help exert nervous energy you accumulate from stress and anxiety. It also releases endorphins which can increase positive feelings and help you feel good about yourself. Try to take time out to enjoy your favorite sport or go for a walk outside. It will keep you healthy and happy, and increase circulation to the brain for your next study session. In addition to physical exercise, try relaxation exercises to help stay focused on the present.
- Write it down. During high pressure situations, you may experience fears and worries that wouldn’t ordinarily bother you. In the midst of negative feelings, it may be hard to distinguish between reasonable worries, such as an exam, and minor concerns that may not warrant your worry. Writing your thoughts and concerns down on paper can help you see which issues you can attend to, and which ones aren't worth worrying about. Try numbering each concern from most serious to least, and consider letting go of the least important ones, at least until you have overcome the more serious challenges facing you at that time.
- Approach. Avoiding what is stressful can often feel like the best method for gaining control over your anxiety in the moment; however, by avoiding anxiety provoking situations, you are actually just exacerbating the worry attached to it. Try approaching the concern by focusing on what it is about the issue that is causing you the most worry. By approaching rather than avoiding the fear, you are able to become present and gain clarity about how to proceed.
DEPRESSION & GRIEF
It's normal to occasionally feel down or blue, especially if you're adjusting to a new environment such as college or you're feeling worn out. However, depression is more serious than occasional feelings of sadness and can make it tough to function and enjoy life.
Depression varies from person to person, but there are some common signs and symptoms.
- Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
- Inability to experience pleasure—even from
- activities that you used to enjoy
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Changes in sleep and/or appetite
- Lack of motivation
- Difficulty concentrating
- Suicidal thoughts, feelings, or behaviors (If you are feeling suicidal or feel you are experiencing a mental health crisis, please refer to the emergency services page.)
The National Institute of Mental Health offers the following suggestions for managing depression:
- Try to see a mental health professional as soon as possible. Research shows that the longer you wait, the greater the impairment can be down the road.
- Try to be active and exercise.
- Set realistic goals for yourself.
- Break up large tasks into smaller ones, set some priorities and do what you can as you can.
- Do not isolate yourself. Try to spend time with other people and confide in a trusted friend or relative. Try not to isolate yourself, and let others help you.
- Expect your mood to improve gradually, not immediately. Do not expect to suddenly "snap out of" your depression. Often during treatment for depression, sleep and appetite will begin to improve before your depressed mood lifts.
- Postpone important decisions, such as changing majors, dropping out, ending relationships, etc., until you feel better. Discuss decisions with others who know you well and have a more objective view of your situation.
- Remember that positive thinking will replace negative thoughts as your depression responds to treatment.
- Continue to educate yourself about depression.
GRIEF Grief is a normal and natural response to losing someone or something important to you. People can feel grief upon losing a job, a pet, a friendship, a relationship, or a loved one.
Each person experiences grief in unique ways. Some reactions to grief include:
- Anger or irritability
- Fear or guilt
- Changes in sleep or appetite
- Denial or disbelief
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling alone
Coping with grief:
- Talk with a friend or loved one. Although it may feel as if no one can understand the feelings of loss you are experiencing, it is important to reach out to people who care about you to let them know how you're doing.
- Try to avoid taking on new responsibilities or making major life decisions.
- Avoid alcohol or other substances.
- Get regular sleep and eat healthful, regular meals.
- Get regular exercise.
- Do one nice thing for yourself every day.
- Find ways to maintain connection with the individual you lost.
- Talk with a counselor.
EATING & BODY-IMAGE
Body image is about much more than physical appearance and attractiveness. It refers to the way we perceive our body. Body image is not static. It can change in response to our environment and emotions.
In college, different factors may affect your body image.
- A change in routine and habits.
- Expectations from self and others to achieve great things.
- Pressures to make new friends and "fit in."
- Wanting to feel in control.
- Striving for perfection.
- Turning to food as a source of comfort or procrastination.
- An increased number of people we may compare ourselves to.
What distinguishes disordered eating from an eating disorder?
- It is all about degree. An individual with disordered eating is often engaged in some of the same behavior as those with eating disorders, but at a lesser frequency or lower level of severity.
- Disordered eating is problematic and needs to be taken seriously, though the symptoms might not be as extreme as those of a diagnosable eating disorder.
- Individuals with disordered eating may be at risk for developing a full-blown eating disorder and are more likely to have a history of depression and/or anxiety, or be at risk for anxiety and depression at some point in the future
Types of Eating Disorders
An eating disorder isn't just something you wake up with, nor is it a path we choose for ourselves. It's something that develops over time. The three main eating disorders include anorexia, bulimia and binge eating. It is not uncommon that an individual may experience different forms of eating disorders at different times.
Symptoms of anorexia may include:
- An overwhelming fear of gaining weight.
- Immense efforts trying to maintain weight.
- Restricting calories.
- Believing yourself to be bigger than you are.
- Fasting and/ or laxative abuse.
- Obsessively exercising.
- Avoiding social situations to steer clear of food.
Symptoms of bulimia may include:
- Eating unusually large portions of food in one sitting.
- Forcing yourself to vomit (purging) after eating as a result of immense guilt or shame.
- Eating very quickly or in an out of control manner as a result of emotional or stressful situations.
- Eating in secret.
- Having a distorted body image.
- Engaging in intense dieting, fasting or laxative abuse.
- Obsessively exercising.
Symptoms of binge eating may include:
- Eating abnormally large amounts of food.
- Feeling out of control when eating.
- Eating in response to emotional or stressful situations.
- Eating alone or in secret.
Eating disorders can affect anyone.
Concerns about eating habits and behaviors affect people of every age, race, gender, social class/income, sexual orientation, and body size.
Managing a healthy body image
If you're experiencing any of the above symptoms and find that your body image is affecting your everyday life, it's important to talk to a professional.Eating disorders are very serious and can even be fatal. Additional strategies that can help address negative perceptions about your body include:
- Be kind to yourself [link to self-help topic “self-compassion”]. Focus on things you like about yourself.
- Try to surround yourself with people who have a positive influence and have a healthy perspective about food, weight, and their bodies.
- Avoid comparing yourself to others. Everyone is different and everyone is facing their own challenges in their own ways.
- Try to focus on what's on the inside. When you meet new people, focus on their name, what they do and what they enjoy rather than the way they look. It is more important to be listened to than just looked at.
- Get active. Exercise (in moderation) can help you feel better about your body and give you more energy.
HELP SOMEONE ELSE
College students face many stressors that can impact their life and academics. You may be the first one to notice signs of distress of another student. And you can help! At UM, it is our shared responsibility to look out for one another and we are here to support you.
Helping someone in crisis:
- If you are worried about the immediate safety of a student(s), please call 911 or UM Police (305-284-6666).
- If there is no immediate safety concern, you can report a concern you have about a fellow UM student to ‘CANES CARE for ‘CANES. Reporting may be done anonymously.
- You can call or come to the Counseling Center and discuss your concerns with a counselor.
- You can also call a 24hr emergency hotline. There is always someone available to discuss your concerns anonymously. Making a call today can make a significant difference.
Tips for helping someone who is struggling:
- Talk in private when both of you have time and are not preoccupied. Give your undivided attention. It is possible that just a few minutes of listening may be enough to help him/her feel comfortable about what to do next.
- Be direct and non-judgmental. In a supportive, and gentle, but straightforward way, share what you have observed and what your concerns are. For example, say something like: "I've noticed you've been avoiding your friends lately and you have been oversleeping and missing class. I'm really concerned and would like to talk about this."
- Listen sensitively. Listen to thoughts and feelings in a sensitive way. Communicate understanding by paraphrasing what you've been told. Try to include both the content and feelings. For example, "It sounds like you miss your family and are really feeling alone."
Remember to let the student talk and be prepared for the possibility of strong feelings/reactions from the person (e.g., denial, tears, anger, confusion).
- Refer. Point out that help is available and that seeking help is a sign of strength. If the person is a UM student, you can refer them to the Counseling Center.
- Follow up. Check with the person later to find out how he or she is doing. Provide support or encouragement as appropriate.
LEARNING & ACADEMIC CONCERNS (TEST ANXIETY, TIME MANAGEMENT & CONCENTRATION)
Test anxiety is an uneasiness or apprehension experienced before, during, or after an examination because of concern, worry, or fear. Almost everyone experiences some anxiety. But some students find that anxiety interferes with their learning and test taking to such an extent that their grades are seriously affected.
Techniques for managing test anxiety:
BEFORE THE TEST
- Being well prepared for the test is the best way to reduce test taking anxiety. Attend all of your classes, find out what you’re expected to know and when the exams are scheduled.
- Keep up with your work so that you can avoid “cramming” for your exams.
- Create a study plan that provides enough time to study for the test as well as time for breaks.
- Study in a location where you can concentrate on the material and give it your complete attention.
- Encourage yourself as you would a friend.
- Avoid comparing yourself with others.
- Reward yourself after studying.
- Practice relaxation exercises when you begin to feel anxious. Use anxiety as a cue to relax. Close your eyes, take three deep breaths, and then go back to the task. link to self-help topic, relaxation
- Take care of yourself by eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep (especially the night before the test).
DURING THE TEST
- When the exam is distributed, look over the entire test and read the directions very carefully.
- Start with the easiest questions to build up your confidence.
- Focus your attention on the question at hand. Don’t waste time and energy worrying, thinking about the consequences of not doing well, or wondering what others are doing.
- If you don't know an answer, mark the question so you can come back to it.
- If you start to feel anxious, practice relaxation. Use anxiety as a cue to relax. Close your eyes take three deep breaths, and then go back to the task.
AFTER THE TEST
- Reward yourself for having tried.
- Avoid going over the test questions with others.
- Don’t focus on what you might have done or what mistakes you might have made.
Scheduling and managing time wisely are important for college students. Have you ever missed an important appointment or deadline? If you have, you probably found that it complicated both your academic and your social life. You may have ended up feeling anxious, frustrated, guilty, or experiencing some other uncomfortable feeling.
Managing your time effectively and getting things done in a timely manner can help to increase your confidence while decreasing your anxiety.
- Be realistic. Think about how long it will take you to complete a task and plan your time accordingly. It is better to overestimate the time you will need and get done early than to underestimate how long the task will take. If you figure your assignment will take you three hours to complete, make sure you dedicate three hours of time in your schedule to work on it - don't try to squeeze it in when you are otherwise busy.
- Remember that perfection is unattainable. Setting unrealistic goals for yourself will only hinder your motivation. It may help to concentrate on finishing a "rough draft" that you can then review for mistakes instead of trying to come up with the final copy first.
- Break down projects into smaller tasks. Smaller projects are easier to complete, and many people find they have a lot more motivation to work on three small things than one large thing. Dividing a project into smaller tasks makes it easier to figure out how much time you will need to complete the entire thing.
- Take breaks. Schedule time to relax—give your brain a break during study sessions.
No one can be completely focused all of the time. We all experience lapses in concentration. Sometimes it’s because we’re bored or disinterested in the subject. Sometimes it can be due to depression, anxiety, or ADHD.
Some signs of poor concentration:
- Easily distracted.
- Frequently forgetting or losing important items (e.g., keys, wallet, phone).
- Having to re-read the same passage multiple times in order to remember anything.
Tips for improving concentration:
- Select the right environment for studying. Look for a place with good lighting, a comfortable chair, and a large table. Make sure to limit distractions in your study area.
- Prioritize tasks and make a schedule for when you’re going to work on them.
- Try to study during times of day when you are most alert and awake.
- Unplug! Avoid attention-sapping sites (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest) when you need to stay on-task.
- Set a timer to keep yourself focused on one task at a time.
- Take quick breaks to recharge.
- Eat a well-balanced diet and stay hydrated.
- Get adequate sleep each night.
- Get moving. Physical activity can improve focus during the day.
LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning) students at the University of Miami encounter the same struggles as other students but may also face the additional stress of navigating in a world that is often less accepting of people that are not heterosexual and/or traditionally gendered.
Since sexual orientation and gender identity may not be immediately visible to others, LGBTQ students often have to deal with questions about coming out, worrying about others reactions and finding romantic partners. Given negative messages in society, some students worry about the impact their sexual/gender minority status will have on their career path, religious beliefs, health, family, and friends. The Counseling Center strives to be a resource for students to discuss these and other concerns in a safe and affirming environment.
Coming out is the process of disclosing and sharing one's sexual orientation and/or gender identity. The process of coming out occurs internally (within one's self) and externally (with others). Coming out is not an event but rather a life-long process of disclosure, conceptualization, and sharing of one's identity with self and others. Identity is not singular or fixed. There may be aspects of your identity that are only revealed to yourself. Over time one decides what aspects of identity can be shared and with whom. Remember, your identity belongs to you and no one else!
Why come out?
You are the only person who has the right to decide whether or not to come out. Unfortunately, at times, we may be forced to share parts of ourselves when we are not ready to do so. Living and expressing one's authentic self can be empowering, affirming, and enriching for both you and those who care about you. However, there may be certain risks to coming out that must also be considered. Coming out is a process that requires careful reflection about our beliefs, values, and wishes.
Coming out to oneself
Becoming aware of one's own sexual orientation and/or gender identity and moving towards internal recognition and affirmation is often the first and most important step. Towards the beginning of this process it's natural to experience much confusion. Sexual orientation, gender, and sex are structured as binary categories in contemporary American society. These binaries are: gay or straight, masculine or feminine, and male or female. In reality, these concepts can be perceived on a continuum. For example a person can have both masculine traits and feminine traits. When applying this principle to one's own way of being, frustration and confusion can arise. Therefore, careful reflection and probing of one's true sense of self can be greatly beneficial.
During the ongoing process of self-discovery no one is immune to negative messages and images communicated by others, including other self-identified LGBTQ individuals. Therefore, to assist you on your journey it can be helpful to consider multiple aspects of LGBTQ culture. Consider that negative perceptions of self come from external sources. To dislike or hate one's self in relation to aspects of an LGBTQ identity is to internalize negative and judgmental messages. A term indicative of this dynamic is "internalized homophobia". You may decide to read about or seek conversations with those you see as role models. Many people will tell you that things are "a lot better now" and that "things are nowhere near as difficult" as they have been. Indeed, this is more true for some groups than it is for others. Understanding our shared history is important as we consider where we are today. Consuming information is another way to create understanding. Look for literature, current events, music, discussions, the arts, events, theater, and TV that communicate the LGBTQ experience.
Coming out to others
After personal reflection it may feel natural to begin coming out to others. This process certainly looks different for everyone. It may feel safer to come out to others who already outwardly identify as LGBTQ. This can be a validating experience as others share their stories with you.
When deciding how to come out consider these factors:
- What does your support system look like? How safe does it feel to talk to family and friends? Consider attitudes and choose people that will help you build a strong support network.
- Be aware of offices, groups, and organizations that openly support you. In the case that things don't go well, it's important to have a plan of where to seek support. For example, talking with a counselor at the Counseling Center can be helpful.
- Remember that you took time to think about coming out. Family and friends will often need time to process what this means for your relationship. Have resources on hand that can help them with this process. For example, family and friends can find a great deal of information at PFLAG.
- Think about why you're coming out. Healthy reasons include a desire to maintain an open and authentic relationship. Less healthy reasons