We have all heard the story about how growing up is a difficult time. "It's full of changes!," "Don't worry about it!," "It's only a phase!," and so many other comments coming from older people, classmates, family, and even the internet. But some of them are actually true because, growing up is a difficult time. It is full of changes and things we couldn't ever plan for. I remember when I was little and everything was easy. I was tired? I went to bed. I was hungry? I ate a cookie. But just like that life's problems grew bigger than the size of the cookie jar with time.
When I hit my teenage years I was still doing fine. There were boys that I liked, I had a solid group of friends, I was acing all subjects! I experienced changes in my body as I reached womanhood (we all know what I mean), and suddenly I was taller, curvier, and had pimples all over. Still, that didn't worry me. I was happy.
When I was accepted into college I was thrilled. Everything was going perfectly. Freshman year flew by, I made a new solid group of friends that I still love, I met an amazing guy that supports me everyday no matter what, and I was also doing pretty well in all of my classes. So, what happened?
It was November 2015 and one day I woke up feeling down. I don´t know if it was the pressure of the grades, my relationship, or just a bunch of little things bottleling up. I had never experienced depression before, so it hit me like a truck. I started feeling guilty, I wanted to breakup with my boyfriend, I didn't want to talk to my friends, I wanted to be alone all the time. I didn't even call my family as regularly as I used to. My grades dropped because I wasn't going to class. I was having a really, really hard time. I didn't understand why. What changed? What happened?
I went to counseling. I talked for hours to my dear counselor to whom I owe my life. He tried to help me understand why I was feeling the way I was. The depression came and went. With the months I learned how to handle it and how to behave if I knew it was coming. I didn't break up with my boyfriend, I started going out with my friends again, my grades started to rise and my connection with my family improved. Still, I was feeling off.
It was this summer when I realized what the problem was. I had periods of time were I would be feeling perfectly fine and others were I wanted to cry myself to sleep. The roller coaster of emotions was overwhelming and saturating. I was done with it. I needed to know the reason as of why I was feeling that way. So I did some internal research.
I have been trying to please everyone my whole life. My parents with my grades, my friends with my humor, my boyfriend with my company, and so on. There was one person, however, that I had neglected over the years that finally made a cry for attention. That person was me.
I had failed to love me the way I was trying to love others. I had forgotten to take care of myself. I put so much pressure and weight in my shoulders that I forgot that I too was a person who needed caring and love. I don't mean that those around me weren't giving me the support I needed, they were. I was not giving me the support I needed. My attitude towards myself was not a positive one. My brain kept screaming: "You're not good enough!," "You don't deserve these opportunities!," "EVERYTHING is your fault!," "You are disgusting!." After talking to my mom, my boyfriend, and reading a very helpful article in the internet I realized that these thoughts needed to stop. Then I started to improve. Truly improve.
Accepting my flaws was not an easy challenge. I have been a perfectionist throughout my life and accepting that my thoughts or my body are not perfect took time. It was a matter of attitude though, once I realized that my imperfections made me who I was (who I am); a strong, independent, smart, young woman. Then my attitude changed. I stopped putting so much weight in my shoulders, I started to like what I saw in the mirror, I started to accept that I was human. I began to love myself, a concept that before that had been foreign and scary.
We often forget that we are people too. We think of ourselves as machines built for success and ambition but we forget that we breathe and that blood pumps through our veins. I learned that I needed to accept who I was, with flaws and edges before I could truly love and care for others. I learned that once my attitude towards my situation changed, my emotions did as well. The problems I was facing did not go away, but the way I looked at them was different than before. I was lost within the labyrinth of my thoughts and the negativity of my mentality, but when I felt the fresh air in my lungs and started to look in the mirror with different eyes, I realized "Hey, it's alright. You're alright." And now, I'm starting to feel happy again.