I have always been a huge advocate of coming out to the degree that feels authentic and “right” to you. The burden of having to “hide” is detrimental not only to our own inner well-being but also to your professional success. In fact, gays who are out of the closet at work have stronger careers. What I loved most about this guest post by Nina Smith over at Penelope Trunk’s blog is the following quote:
This makes sense because it’s hard to come across as a “normal” when people don’t know a thing about your personal life. Or worse yet, you get pegged as the person defined by work and nothing else.
I couldn’t have said it better myself. It is a fine example of how you can worry yourself to death about appearing “not normal” by coming out yet in fact the opposite is true. By being inauthentic and untrue to yourself you are actually being unfair to everyone around you as well. They don’t get to know the whole picture and the real person that is uniquely you!
I firmly believe that self-esteem and self-knowledge are the #1 differentiator between a successful life and a mediocre (or miserable) one. Your choice on whether and how to come out in a professional setting is a fine example of the power of choice. By choosing to deny who you are you lower your self-esteem. Sure, you might think — “but I am true to myself, I know who I am!” Yet, the message you give yourself through your actions (remember, actions speak louder than words) is that “I am not OK; it is not OK to be who I am.”
My gut and experience knows that this dance of contradiction makes it damn hard to be comfortable in your own skin. As a result your overall career and personal life suffers. Not sure how or why to navigate these waters? Check out this post I recently wrote for Queercents called “Coaching is an Investment Not an Expense” for some insights and hard facts about how you can boost your self-knowledge and why you’d want to.
Bottom liine: The truth is that people most secure with themselves are the ones who stand out. Do you want to stand out in your business or career? It’s time to start looking inside to see who you need to be to make that desire a reality.