You have decided to be one of the thousands of undocumented youth that are standing up and speaking out. How can you overcome the fear of telling someone you’re undocumented?
I first came out to a group of people over two years ago. I was invited to participate in a presentation regarding immigration at a synagogue to educate its members. I decided that my story was powerful and it could change the way people look at the word “undocumented immigrant.” But I was still worried and afraid of people’s reactions once I told them. Like many students, the fear of revealing my undocumented status was instilled in me since I was young. How could I ever look at people in the eye and disclose such a personal aspect of my life? I wrote my story down and read it out loud in front of the mirror a thousand times. But thinking about coming out still made me nervous.
As you plan to come out to your friends, co-workers, teachers, guidance counselors, or even strangers, you might also feel the way I felt. As the day of my “coming out” approached, I followed some steps that helped me and hopefully will help you as well.
1) Relax. It seems silly and impossible to relax but you can. First, take a deep breath and clear your mind. You have prepared for this and you are ready. Forget about what people might think or what they might say. This is your life and you will not let yourself be intimidated by other people’s opinions. Truthfully, most people will be sympathetic to your story and support you 100%.
2) Remember you’re not alone: As you make the decision to come out, there are thousands of other students that have made the same decision with you. They have decided to stand up and speak out, just like you have. And just like you, they are not afraid anymore. Remember that we are all dreamers, and we are all in this together.
3) Realize this situation is not your fault: as an undocumented student, you might feel embarrassed or guilty about your situation, most of us have felt that at one point or another in our lives. But remember- the fact that you’re undocumented is not your fault. There is nothing for which you should be ashamed or embarrassed, because you did not create this situation. The government, neglecting to fix unfair and unjust immigration policy, created the situation.
4) You’re making a difference. Whether you’re coming out to one person or to hundreds of people at a rally, you’re making a difference. By coming out, you’re helping to shed the stereotypes people have been made to believe about immigrants. it’s a proven fact that people who know someone who is undocumented are more likely to support legalization than somebody who does not. You could be the person who changes their opinion, and adds another ally to the movement.
So come out and be proud. Let’s show the country that even though we’re undocumented, we are not afraid anymore!