Loving Yourself Is The Most Important Life Lesson

I Spent So Long Struggling To Compete With Everyone That I Forgot What Truly Matters — Myself

The last couple years have been a tough, but necessary, lesson.

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In my life, I have struggled to compete with everyone around me academically and socially. When I was younger I was always the smart kid. I never had to try too hard because learning and doing well in school was easy for me. When I got into high school, all of a sudden people caught up and I felt like I wasn't as smart as I thought I was. The realization had a negative effect on me, as I wasn't the only one who held myself to such high standards.

Some of my classmates expected me to know the answers when they didn't and to understand what they couldn't. My pride hurt whenever I had to say "I don't know," and whenever someone else knew what I didn't. The past couple of years I have been working on fixing my mentality so that I know it's okay to not be the best and it's okay to be wrong. It's okay for others to be better. I no longer fall back on being the "smart kid," instead I focus on being the "kid who worked smart."

College is even a tougher environment. Many of the students at UW-Madison are the brightest in the state or have had more opportunities for previous success from going to a better high school or being from a more wealthy family. Also, unlike in high school, I truly have to study in order to do well and keep up. Being in college has helped my confidence because, as a freshman, I'm in tougher classes with sophomores and juniors and doing just as well as they are in those classes.

In addition to competing academically, there's the struggle of competing socially.

Every day I am aware of the strain that expectations have on my self-confidence. I consistently feel stuck in a trap of being too much or not enough. The worst part is that I am aware of the deceptions and the lies created by social media, but I find it a challenge to escape them.

In the summer I scroll through Instagram and see numerous posts of gorgeous, fit girls in bikinis on boats and I assume that every day for them is sunshine, smiles, and no worries. I forget that maybe one of them just had her heart broken, maybe one feels ugly or fat, maybe one never feels good enough either.

I'm guilty of glamorizing my life on social media, as well. I have posted pictures in which I am smiling, but that smile dropped instantly after the picture was taken. Each time I am about to post a picture, I think: "Is this the real me? Does this really show my life at this moment?" Most of the time the answer is no, but I click "Share" anyways.

With social media these days, we are able to cover-up our blemishes and insecurities, filter our pictures, and make our lives seem more fun and happy than they truly are. We have become obsessed with showcasing the "perfect life."

Whenever I scroll through social media, I try to remember that everyone is living their life in their own way, and the pictures they choose to post only show what they want you to see.

This necessary reminder that no one's life is picture perfect, and learning the lesson that succeeding academically does, in fact, take a lot of work, has helped me grow and appreciate myself for who I am.

I have worked through the mindset of "I deserve this" and created a new mindset of "I've got to work for this." I have learned how to find amazing aspects in myself that I love. Although I struggled with competing with others, I have learned that it takes work to be smart, and it takes perseverance to become content with who you are.

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To The Girl Who Isn't Graduating On Time, It Won't Feel Any Less Amazing When You Do

Graduating is something to be proud of no matter how long it takes you.

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To the girl who isn't graduating college "on time,"

I promise, you will get there eventually, and you will walk across that graduation stage with the biggest smile on your face.

You may have a different journey than the people you grew up with, and that is OKAY. You may have some twists and turns along the way, a few too many major changes, a life change, you may have taken most of a semester off to try to figure your life out, and you're doing the best you can.

Your family and your friends don't think less of you or your accomplishments, they are proud of your determination to get your degree.

They are proud of the woman you are becoming. They don't think of you as a failure or as someone any less awesome than you are. You're getting your degree, you're making moves towards your dreams and the life that you have always wanted, so please stop beating yourself up while you see people graduating college on time and getting a job or buying a car.

Your time will come, you just keep doing what you need to do in order to get on that graduation stage.

Your path is set out for you, and you will get there with time but also with patience. The place you're at right now is where you are supposed to be. You are going to thrive and you are going to be the best version of you when you graduate and start looking for a company that you will be proud to work for. Don't look on social media and feel less than, because at least you're still working towards your degree that you are finally passionate about. You will be prepared. You will be ready once the time comes and you cross the stage, move away, and start your journey in whatever field you're going into.

Don't question yourself, and be confident in your abilities.

With love,

A girl who isn't graduating on time

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11 Things You NEVER Say To A College Girl Trying To Get Into Shape

Just never talk about a person's weight.

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When my family and friends joked that I was going to gain 15 pounds in my freshman year of college as a result of the "Freshman 15," I thought it was what it was supposed to be: a joke. However, as the year has come to an end, I realized that I actually did put on a couple of pounds, albeit it wasn't the predicted 15.

As I told those that I wanted to get into an ideal shape for my body, I was met with some insensitive and ignorant remarks. Everyone thought that I mean just losing the weight I had put on.

1. "You walk to all of your classes, why aren't you losing weight that way?"

My legs are more toned than they ever have been before. However, most of the weight I have been gaining has gone directly to my gut (annoying!) and walking does not remedy that. Unfortunately, I have to stick to ab workouts.

2. "But you look fine to me!"

I don't feel healthy to myself. I'm not trying to stay in shape for anyone else, just myself, thanks. I appreciate you trying to make me feel better about my body image but I know something has to be done.

3. "I didn't gain any weight in college."

Good for you. I did. I'm trying to do something about it.

4. "Just stop drinking."

I don't drink. Really, the only liquid I consume is water or iced tea. I don't like soda and alcohol makes me nauseous way too easily.

5. "Isn't the gym free on campus for students?"

Yes, but some people don't like working out in front of others. I am one of those people. My friend lives in an apartment complex that has their own gym and almost no one is ever there but not everyone has that luxury. Also, some are busy and do not have time for a quick jog or to stretch.

6. "You should try this diet/pills/exercise routine."

I am thankful that you are trying to help but my diet is just eating healthy and having a few cheat days in between. I know what exercises work best for me and I am just not taking pills. Bodies adjust differently.

7. "Don't starve/force yourself to throw up."

Trust me, I know. I'm trying to lose the weight healthily. If you do find yourself practicing unhealthy eating habits or realizing your body image is deteriorating, the NEDA Hotline is (800) 931-2237. Please reach out if you are going through hardships.

8. "Won't you have to buy a whole new wardrobe?"

If I drop (or even add) a size or two. We grow out and grow tired of clothes on the regular, what's the difference if you have to buy some because of a weight change? Plus, who doesn't love buying new clothes?

9. "Just eat healthier."

Didn't think of it! Options are limited at college where the dining halls don't offer all that much that is actually good for your body. Now that I'm at home, it's easier. But I'm already trying to eat healthy.

10. "You've evened out since the last time I saw you!"

This is code for you've put on some weight. I hear it mostly from older relatives because my friends will flat out tell me if I've gotten a little chunky.

11. "You're just stressed."

Personally, this one gets me livid. I do admit that when I am stressed or anxious, I do turn to food for comfort but when I am delighted and genuinely happy, will my body magically revert into a fit state?

Sadly, no.

Honestly, I am just trying to get my body back into shape. For me, that means cutting back on greasy foods and kicking a bad habit of sitting on my butt all day. For others, it could mean more or less. As long as your body is in good physical condition and you are content, the number on the scale and others' thoughts shouldn't matter. Take care of yourself.

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