I've Learned To Love Myself By Changing My Appearance To Accurately Reflect My Identity

I've Learned To Love Myself By Changing My Appearance To Accurately Reflect My Identity

My body is my canvas, and I will paint it the way I choose to.

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Not many people have the gift of feeling comfortable in their own skin. For years I didn't feel comfortable with the way I looked. As a child, I had long hair and wore clothes that I didn't always want to wear. Sometimes I had the freedom of wearing basketball shorts and a t-shirt, but on the other hand I was also told I looked like a boy and needed to dress more like a girl. I'm nineteen now and this is still something I hear a few times a year.

In eighth grade I cut my hair short after years of wanting to cut it all off. After begging my mom, I had finally convinced her to let me get my hair cut like Sainthood era Sara Quin. My hair was long on one side and short on the other with some weird shit going on in the back. Unfortunately, I was in eighth grade and had only worn my hair in a ponytail up to that point so I didn't really style my hair much then so it was kind of a disaster looking back. Having my haircut was the best feeling ever, I finally felt free for the first time in my life. I knew at that time that if I got my Sara Quin haircut that eventually my mom would let me get it cut shorter; I just had to compromise in the meantime.

Sometime in high school, I got the rest of my hair cut off. Still, even now, it's not as short as I would like it to be because of "good 'ol family values" but that's another story for another day. I haven't become truly comfortable with myself until the past year and a half. I turned 18 and started getting tattoos. Tattoos were something that I have wanted for years and once I was old enough to get them, I haven't stopped getting them. In a little over a year, I have gotten 13 tattoos.

Clothes, hair, and tattoos are all an important part of the way I present myself. They are my identity through and through. I've always been told that my identity is who I am on the inside, the person I create and show to people and that it is not the physical representation that I show people. Honestly, I totally disagree with this. The first thing people see is the physical representation of me and my body so why not make it an awesome first impression?

I still have a few things left to do to be completely comfortable with myself and my body but I'm on the right track. I have come a long way in my life and I am so proud of the fact that I am actually happy with the way I look now. Obviously, I still want shorter hair, more tattoos, and a few other things done in order to be fully happy with myself. When I look in the mirror now, I see someone that is living their life, someone who is doing things. I no longer see a blank canvas or one that needs to be painted; I see a canvas that is almost a fully complete work of art. My body is a work of art and it is one that will never be done but I am so happy that I get to create this piece of art.

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A Letter To My Freshman Dorm Room As I Pack Up My Things

Somehow a 15' x 12' room became a home.

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Dear Geary 411,

With your creaky beds, concrete walls, and mismatched tile floors, you are easily overlooked as just another room we were randomly assigned to— but you were different. Inside your old walls, I have made some of the best memories of my life that I will hold on to forever.

Thank you for welcoming my neighbors in with open arms who quickly became friends who didn't knock and walked in like you were their own.

I feel like an apology is needed.

We're sorry for blaring the music so loud while getting ready and acting like we can actually sing when, in reality, we know we can't. Sorry for the dance parties that got a bit out of control and ended with us standing on the desks. Sorry for the cases of the late-night giggles that came out of nowhere and just would not go away. Sorry for the homesick cries and the "I failed my test" cries and the "I'm dropping out" cries. We're sorry for hating you at first. All we saw was a tiny and insanely hot room, we had no idea what you would bring to us.

Thank you for providing me with memories of my first college friends and college experiences.

As I stand at the door looking at the bare room that I first walked into nine months ago I see so much more than just a room. I see lots and lots of dinners being eaten at the desks filled with stories of our days. I see three girls sitting on the floor laughing at God knows what. I see late night ice cream runs and dance battles. I see long nights of homework and much-needed naps. Most importantly, I look at the bed and see a girl who sat and watched her parents leave in August and was absolutely terrified, and as I lock you up for the last time today, I am so proud of who that terrified girl is now and how much she has grown.

Thank you for being a space where I could grow, where I was tested physically, mentally and emotionally and for being my home for a year.

Sincerely,

A girl who is sad to go

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When Was The Last Time You Were Alive?

If you can't post it for everyone to see, was it truly a remarkable moment?

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Being alive is an essentially effortless act.

In theory, as long as you're eating food, drinking water, and performing as a human, assuming no major health conditions, most of us are living.

The tragedy I see most often is so very few of us are alive.

Now, I'm not suggesting you drop your textbooks and sprint up a mountain, or go broke trying to find yourself in new activities and events.

That's the illusion pressed onto so many of us. Social Media, more importantly, FOMO, has taught us that in order to truly be alive we need to make sure we travel far and wide, eat gourmet and unique food, and essentially, immerse ourselves in something phenomenal. However, regardless of what you do- don't do it without an audience and the value of your experience will only be justified by the number of likes you accrue on your #bestvacation ever because you #lovenature. With your back to the camera and wispy hair flowing in the beach air, you hit all of your angles, how else will you prove that you're alive to Instagram?

I fell for this too. I spent so much of my life constantly trying to get to the next phase life had to offer. High school was fun, but I was counting the days until graduation. Growing up in a small hometown wasn't awful, but I had sticky note calendars until my next vacation. And day in and day out, events would happen all around me that were just too "normal." I wasn't alive, but I was living.

Setting your soul on fire and truly living is so much more difficult than you could ever expect, but not because you have to drain savings and take along a buddy to snap all the perfect moments.

Choosing to be alive is realizing how important it is to be in this moment or phase in life and accepting it for all its worth. Instead of racing to the finish line or trying to sprint into your next season of assumed happiness, take time to notice all the beautiful and small things that make this moment so important. There is so much life to be found in simple moments.

Semesters are ending, we are all racing to summer. Perhaps in the process, take note of the routine cafeteria worker that constantly smiles at you and says hello. Or perhaps, giggle at the fact that in just a few short weeks that bus driver you see every single morning won't be apart of your morning routine.

The farther I get from what used to be my normal, the more I miss that season of life. I haven't lived in my hometown since I was eighteen, but I miss the simplicity that came with my drives to high school listening to Kanye West and the coziness of a small town opening its doors to start a new day. I never stopped to be alive in those moments, I was just simply living.

Wherever your next phase of life might be, it will always be there. You will always have something else coming. However, once this moment is gone. It's truly gone. Don't waste beautiful views trying to capture just the right picture for Instagram, take in the moment.

Living and experiencing life can be as simple as trusting that you're exactly where you need to be in life. Cherish each moment as you're in it. The next moment is coming whether you're ready or not.

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