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Since 1987, October 11th has been an important day for the LGBTQIA+ community. This year is the 31st anniversary of National Coming Out Day—a day that serves as a way for LGBTQIA+ identifying individuals to celebrate themselves, each other, and the people in their lives who support and love them for who they are.
To highlight this day, we asked one of our own, Eric Lerma, to share their coming out journey, what coming out means to them, and how living their truth helped them to empower others.
I am so indebted to this community. I have been afforded an infinite amount of lessons, virtues, and affirmations–more than I could have ever hoped to acquire. I would say that I’m most grateful for my ability to understand and navigate shame. I came out in a small, country town in the Central Valley of California. The community was small, and most were deeply closeted, and many of us had a multitude of shared experiences when it came to how we were treated by our peers. While I wouldn’t wish what some of us went through unto anyone, I’ve learned how to help people through their shame. I’ve learned how to empower and instill confidence in people when they maybe feel at their lowest, when they feel they don’t have a place in the world. I’ve learned to actively practice compassion and empathy. The LGBTQIA+ Community has empowered me to empower others.
The timing of my coming out wasn’t calculated or given too much thought, nor was it a particularly joyous occasion. For lack of better phrasing, I was very tired when I came out; exhausted even. So much of my energy was spent trying to keep my head down and not respond to any antagonistic behavior; the obscene gestures and comments in the locker room, the pointed questions attempting to get me to admit or confess my sexuality, being closely followed and taunted while I walked home from school, etc. I had been subject to and endured so many years of this harassment that most of my time in middle and high school was spent in a major depression. I remember there being a pretty distinct numbness at the time. This ultimately resulted in a sense of apathy regarding what people thought of me and a feeling of having nothing left to lose.
So I started telling the truth. I didn’t dodge the questions, I responded to the crass comments without filter or hesitation, and owned my identity. Pretty shortly after, most of the harassment and pestering subsided. It was no longer a secret that people could use against me.
I would start by saying that we shouldn’t use the word or words familial to “preferred” when it comes to Pronouns. It implies that it’s optional and subjective to each individual that person interacts with, which they’re not. You can prefer Coke over Pepsi. You can prefer Slack over email. But you don’t have a preference when it comes to your identity. That is concrete, objective, not up for debate, and should be respected as such. So, when it comes to asking someone about their pronouns, ask, “What are your Pronouns?”
“Coming out” is synonymous with living your truth. It is an act of self-care, self-love. It opens the door to self-discovery. It is one of the greatest gifts a person can give themselves.
First thing’s first, do it on your terms. Come out in a way that’s respectful and reflective of who you are or who you want to be and do so with confidence.
Second, give yourself the time you need. You aren’t on anyone’s schedule or agenda but your own. There is no right or wrong time to come out.
Third and lastly, don’t get hung up on the labels. Sexuality and gender are fluid and exist on a spectrum. You don’t have to speak in absolutes or choose an identifier. Your identity is yours and yours alone, and it is subject to evolution and change.
To say the last year and a half was tough would be an understatement. In fact, it will probably go down as one of the most difficult times for our modern generation. In one of the many social polls we conducted during the pandemic, some of you described this time as a sheer “dumpster fire” or “like stepping on a Lego.” And to be honest, I couldn’t agree more.
Luckily, we’ve been able to get back to some form of normalcy in our lives and wellness routines over the last several months. As vaccines became available to the public, wellness businesses welcomed fitness fanatics, haircut seekers, and massage lovers back to in-person wellness experiences. And thank goodness for that—my roots and horrible posture from working from my bed were both getting wildly out of control. This girl needed a good massage and cupping session stat.
If there’s one thing we learned from the pandemic, it’s that our wellness routines are as personal as they are important. During shelter-at-home, those routines looked a bit different. For many, it meant taking a new approach to the “typical” wellness services we count on—I’m looking at you DIY haircuts, at-home waxing sessions (ouch!), and virtual swerking classes.
Now that we can leave our humble abodes to take advantage of in-person experiences again, the word “wellness” has seemingly taken on a new meaning.
Recently, we conducted another one of our famous social polls to see what wellness means to you, our Mindbody community, now that we're slowly but surely getting back to our regularly scheduled programming. We also tapped some of our most influential Mindbody business owners about the ever-evolving wellness landscape.
Here’s what you all had to say.
According to our annual Mindbody Wellness Index, 60% of Americans say they’re more focused on their health and wellness since COVID. Consumers are now realizing they need to take greater care of themselves to optimize and preserve their health. When we asked you on Instagram how important wellness is, a whopping 98% said it was more important than ever. When it comes to how you’re practicing wellness, though, the answers were all over the board. Many of you pointed to journaling, practicing breathwork, and daily workout routines (cycling and yoga topped the list) as being the activities that help you keep your chill throughout the week.
I’m also happy to report that over 50% said you tend to feel more blessed than stressed on a daily basis—which is more than likely a big improvement. Let’s be honest, a year ago I would’ve bet a billion dollars that 99.9% of us knew no other feeling than anxiety—am I right? But even with the stress in our lives dwindling, many of you are still experiencing burnout at the end of a long work week (guilty!). But instead of succumbing to a bottle of wine for relief (please, that was so 2020), you’re unwinding by going to your favorite workout classes—with hot yoga, barre, and Pilates as your faves.
Let’s be honest, we should credit the business owners in this space for helping us reignite our spark when it comes to our wellness routines, right? Thanks to them, we’ve been inspired to prioritize the activities that help us feel our best. In turn, we thought it’d be interesting to learn what wellness means to them—and how that definition has changed over the past eighteen months.
Here’s what they had to say.
“Wellness is living in balance—mind, body, spirit. Highs and lows. It all ebbs and flows and we can navigate it a bit better when we take time to move, breath and remember who we are, and how we are connected to this big, beautiful world.” - Jess Pierno, Founder, Owner, and Chief Inspiration Officer of Yoga Heights
“Wellness is a true balancing of the mental, physical, and spiritual. It has definitely evolved over the years for me—from something that I just thought was about exercising and eating a healthy diet—to also incorporating balancing and healing internally and spiritually.” - Stefanie Patterson, Owner, Indianapolis Salt Cave and Halotherapy Center
“My sense of wellness has evolved from staying healthy and motivated, mind/body/spirit... to being more gentle with myself, less demanding. Accepting my limitations, taking time for resting, and gaining real clarity about what's important. I care less about what people think of me—difficult as a performer and as a business owner with so many demands on me—and more about getting quiet and tapping into the divine source inside of me that helps me discern my next move. In this way, I know my motives are as pure as possible and I'm not getting distracted—not that I don't make mistakes! Those are necessary, that's how we learn!” - Johanna Krynytzky, Owner, Hip Expressions Belly Dance Studio
“My studio name reminds us that we are constantly evolving. The past 18 months have certainly shown us that! Wellness to me means doing your best on any given day to make sure that you are taking care of yourself as best you can. It leads to resilience. Diet, exercise, sleep, a sense of community, and some form of faith. It all matters. Setbacks happen all the time, and every day is a chance to start again. We strive to be 'cheerleaders' for our clients when we sense that things are coming out of balance in their lives. So many have been with us for 18 years and are friends—they are our community and we all watch out for each other.” - Mo Wolfe, Owner and Founder, Evolution Pilates
I think we can all agree that there isn’t one true definition of wellness anymore. To some of us, it means getting that hot yoga sesh in daily, and to others, it means carving out time to treat ourselves to a massage or manicure. As long as you’re actively pursuing wellness—whatever that means to you—you're on the right track.
Our MO has always been about connecting the world to wellness—a term that's seen a lot of change lately. Whether you’re fully embracing the in-person experience or still delighted by the convenience of practicing at-home wellness, the Mindbody app makes it easy for you to book experiences that help you feel like YOU again.