In 4 Years, I Became The Confident, Happy Person I Had Wished To Be

In 4 Years, I Became The Confident, Happy Person I Had Wished To Be

What once felt impossible is now my reality.

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As I write this, it's August 24. My 21st birthday.

I went in to renew my license today. I saw the date on my old license, 2014, and was reminded of how long ago that was.

It's only been four years, but it feels like so much more time has passed.

An insane amount has changed in those four years. I've changed a great amount in those four years.

Four years ago, I was a senior in high school without a clue. Now, I'm a senior in college who wishes I could ignore the knowledge negative experiences in the last few years forced upon me.

Four years ago, I was still learning who I was. Now, I know that I am a writer, an actress, a theater lover, a good girlfriend. Someone who has come to love herself and is making strides in taking better care of herself.

Four years ago, I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life. Now, I'm an official mass communications major for public relations, with a minor in theatre arts to keep what I love in my life. I joined the Odyssey and learned how much I love writing, and use that to push myself forward every day. I've worked two internships in two different areas of communications and learned a lot from both. I've refined my writing skills.

Four years ago, I didn't know what I was good at. I now know that I can write. I can sing, dance, and act. I'm good at organizing. I'm a solid barista.

I'm good at being someone who cares about others. Someone who loves with all her heart even if it means getting hurt a lot, because it's worth it to care that much about others. Someone who can stand up for herself and refuses to be walked over.

Four years ago, I finally made friends after spending most of my life rejected and alone. Now, I no longer have those friends in my life. My number of friends is significantly smaller than it once was, but I've learned the truth behind the saying "quality over quantity" when it comes to friends and the people you keep in your life.

Four years ago, I hated myself. I was just coming to terms with the official labels of "anxiety," "depression," and "OCD" that now applied to my life, that explained all the mental turmoil I had been dealing with for years with no knowledge about what I was dealing with or why. I was happier than I had been just a year before, but I still got depressed and occasionally had suicidal thoughts.

Now, I love myself. I still have days where I find myself hating myself and my body, but those days happen significantly less than they used to. I'm back in therapy and started medication, realizing that both are not signs of weakness and are important to taking care of my mental health. I've embraced the fact that my mental diagnoses are a part of me and will always be in my life, and am learning to live with that.

Four years ago, I was a very different person on the verge of her whole life changing yet again. Now, I'm exactly who I wished to be four years ago.

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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It's Okay To Not Have It All Together

Nobody is perfect.

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In this day and age, it's easy to compare yourself to others. With social media in our faces 24/7, you're exposed to everyone else's lives and what they are doing. There is no such thing as privacy anymore. What we put out there is subject for the world to see.

On Instagram, you may see someone from high school you despise studying abroad. On Snapchat, you may see an old friend landing their dream job. On Facebook, you may see your cousin getting engaged. On Twitter, you may see your best friend announce their commitment to a university for sports. While you may be happy for some of these people and their accomplishments, it can be hard to not feel unhappy about yourself. This can cast insecurity and doubt on yourself.

Stop comparing yourself to others. Social media is only a highlight reel, not the whole film. Although people post about good things on social media, they don't expose the truth. The truth is that not everyone's lives are full of sunshines and rainbows all the time. In fact, it is normal for people to have cloudy and stormy days among them.

The point is this: it's okay to not have it all together. If you feel lost or confused, don't worry. These feelings are only temporary. Everyone walks down the path of life at their own pace. If you're too busy comparing yourself to others, you're not going to get to where you want to be.

Whether if you don't know what to do as a career, or you're not always happy-go-lucky, don't put yourself down for it. It's part of being human. You're beautiful no matter what. The best experiences usually stem from the darkest of times. All you need is to light the spark that sets the flame. Don't ever give up despite how challenging it gets.

What's wonderful about this world we live in is that it's okay to make mistakes. You learn from them. No human is perfect after all. We weren't put on this planet to do everything right the first time. Everything happens for a reason. Trust that.

Even the ones you admire most once did not have a grip on what they wanted. They too started from scratch. They too felt uneasy about the future. They too were not sure that they were going to make it. Did they tear themselves apart,and tell themselves they were unworthy? Did they say that they were incapable?

No. They rose up. They fought against the odds. They did everything in their power to move forward. It took them soul searching, hard work, and persistence to get them to where they are today. They took the road less traveled, and it paid off. They built their lives on their own; brick by brick. They took their dreams and made them a reality.

You too can do that. Don't ever make yourself believe that you are not capable of living your best life. Don't ever belittle yourself. Don't be negative to the point that it becomes who you are. Don't be the one standing in your way.

What's stopping you from being okay with not being okay? Not having other people's approval? Not getting a million likes on social media? Not receiving praise, "good job", and "way to go"? This isn't kindergarten where everyone gets a participation trophy. If you feel stuck, and want to be unstuck, only you can change your outcome.

In the meantime, appreciate where you are today. I am sure that you are doing great. You're amazing. You can get through anything. Tough times and uncertainties are what will make you a better person at the end of the day. Those who didn't lift a finger to achieve their goals will soon learn the consequences.

You're doing the best you can. Don't be so hard on yourself. In fact, you may be doing wonderful, and you may not even see it. Life is too short to not appreciate the good with the bad; the dark with the light. It is what brings balance in our lives.

From this day forward, don't complain that you aren't where you want to be. Don't moan that your situation isn't your ideal. Get up, and do whatever it is that will point you in the right direction. Fall in love with yourself before, during, and after the process. Good things don't come to those who wait. Good things come to those who take control of their destiny.

But for now, take a few deep breaths. Relax. You're going to be okay. It's okay to not have it all together.

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