College Essay: ‘A rainbow of identities’

Heidi Sanchez Avila, Hiawatha Collegiate High School

I felt like I was in a whole new world. This was the first time I was attending a Pride event.

As I move forward with my life, I only hope to educate people on the fact the world is an assortment of colors and that they are what make life great.

I stopped by a stand that was selling flags. They were all so beautiful. All the colors and all the symbols on them were what drew me in, specifically one decorated with pink, yellow and blue. I asked the girl working at the stand what that flag represented. It was one I had not seen before.

“It’s the pansexual flag,” she responded.

Somehow, I got the courage to ask what pansexual meant.

“It’s when a person loves everyone, regardless of what they identify as,” she said. “It’s more about the feelings as opposed to the gender of the person.”

I was drawn into what the girl said at the end, and I felt like she had described me. I decided to buy the flag. I wore the flag around me with a huge, dorky smile. Once I had it on, I felt invincible. Something was finally aligning within me and who I was. After all the spirals of darkness, I had found something I felt connected with: an identity.

I grew up an only child. My parents had conventional notions about gender and sexuality, so I felt alone when confronting my true feelings. As I grew up I never heard anything other than “Pink is for girls and blue is for boys,” “Why aren’t you more feminine?,” and “Why don’t you have a boyfriend?”

I felt like if I came out, I would be shamed. It left me confused and lost as to who I truly was inside. Around the time I was 14, I became fully aware of my life and what was going around me. I started to develop feelings and emotions for people, boys, girls and everyone in between. I was confused and felt there was something weird about me I couldn’t talk about. I realized that I was losing control of my feelings and myself. I felt so alone. Everything was bottled up. There was no one to talk to. Darkness and depression engulfed me.

In my freshmen year of high school, I developed a close relationship with my advisor. Before she left the school she gifted me a book and told me to read the note inside when I felt like I wasn’t happy with myself. It read, “Keep learning about Heidi and continue to love Heidi. It will be your greatest accomplishment.”

She taught me to stand up to the world, and if I know what I love and who I love, nobody mattered but myself and how I viewed myself. She taught me that I had to love myself and accept the Heidi that was in rainbows, because that’s the best Heidi there is. Learning about who I was when all the darkness was around me changed me. It made me a lot more open to sexualities and gender identities. It showed me the world isn’t only black and white, but that it comes in a rainbow of identities.

Moving into the rest of my life, I hope to get a chance to be able to have a discussion with my parents about my gender identity and sexuality. I also want to be able to get past all these insecurities that come along with my depression.

I will be proud of my own identity. As I move forward with my life, I only hope to educate people on the fact the world is an assortment of colors and that they are what make life great.