I suppose that this was bound to happen sometime. From the moment I started this blog, it has gotten harder and harder for me to keep my big secret a secret. I feel as though I’ve spoiled myself by being open about my atheism with my roommates and through writing.
When I’m home or with my family, there’s no question that it’s nowhere near the time for me to come out with them. I still rely on them, and those relationships are too vital for me to possibly ruin them. When I’m at college, it’s a different story. I’ve always been unfathomably frustrated at having a secret this huge that I can’t tell to anyone, but as time goes on, it becomes more and more difficult to keep private, for a variety of reasons.
At a Christian college, obviously, unless you profess that you are not a Christian, everyone assumes that you are. I’m not exempt from this; I know for a fact that there are more closeted atheists at my school, but I don’t know who they are, and unless someone would tell me that they’re not a Christian, I assume that everyone there is. Most people there have no idea that there are any religious anomalies among them, which is why they are so open to criticizing atheism as well as any views that oppose their own.
My classes last semester weren’t particularly Christ-centered, aside from one class that focused on practical implications of science on religion, which at least had my attention, if not infuriated me, as it continually shamed atheism as well as personifying Richard Dawkins as a hypocrite by taking multiple quotes of his out of context. But I digress. Most of my classes focused on my major, and therefore they didn’t have much of a Christian basis. (Although I wouldn’t put it past these people–they can make anything revolve around the bible.) This semester, however, I have two classes with one professor that does incorporate Christianity into everything that he teaches.
These two classes are primarily discussion-based, and this professor specified on the first day of class that he wants everyone to be absolutely honest about their opinions and views in discussions, but I don’t think he knows quite what he is asking for. Additionally, at the beginning of every class (six times a week for me), he asks a student in the class to open in prayer. This always causes a long awkward pause, as everyone is hoping that someone else will start speaking. All I can do is hope that there’s not a day when I’m asked to be the one to pray, because at this point, I don’t think that I could physically do it without making it total BS that offended everyone. It would be so much easier to admit that I simply can’t pray, and assure everyone that they truly wouldn’t want me to.
One day when I walked into class, there was a question written on the board that was left over from the last class that had used that room. The question was simple enough: “what is your favorite book that you have recently read?” The problem is that the only book I have been reading recently is Dawkins’ The God Delusion. It’s not that I can’t lie and say I haven’t been reading, but it feels so much better to be honest with your peers as well as be proud of yourself in your own skin.
Coming out is an interesting thing. You have to be able to sense who could take the news that you’re an atheist and who can’t. The scary part is when you don’t know how someone will react. I decided around April that I would come out to my roommates in the fall, but it took me until December to muster up the courage to do so, and of course they didn’t mind at all. It’s a terrifying conversation to have. Now is the time for me to decide if I’m ready to make myself known to classmates, teachers, and acquaintances, for my own sake, so that I can make it through the day without lying and pretending constantly. You want to be able to tell those who matter most to you, but at the same time, in the case of my family, those are the most delicate relationships that would be the most devastating to lose. You would think that you can tell those who you don’t know as well, but if they don’t know that you’re indeed not a bad person, they will be quicker to judge.
It’s a sticky situation, but after coming out to my roommates and to the World Wide Web (and my 50 followers!), I realize just how much better it feels to be open with those around me. Those who do know tell me that it won’t be as bad as I make it out to be, and sometimes I just believe it. My life would be a lot easier if I started to open up around school; all I need is the courage to be honest.