Growing up, I never had any sort of self-esteem. I’d walk the halls of my schools and never feel like I fit in. I liked to read when most girls at my school never picked up a book. I have an obsessive personality so when I covered all my notebooks in pictures of Harry Potter, I got laughed at. I was shy. Not to say I didn’t have friends, because I did. There was just always a nagging feeling somewhere deep down that I was being lied to by everyone, that no one truly liked me, or that people pitied me and talked to me.
I know how crazy that sounds, too. Trust me.
Then high school came, and things seemed to just get worse. I wasn’t pretty enough. I woke up early every day to straighten my hair, because my natural hair was too ugly; not to even mention the makeup I bought just to cover up my face. Then sometimes, because I was just too mentally tired to keep up with all of, I stopped caring at all. I didn't do my hair or makeup and wore sweats to school everyday. I felt fat even though I wasn’t. I didn’t eat or barely did at all, just so I could maybe lose a few pounds. I remember popping a snack bag of that low-fat popcorn before work once, eating half, and then throwing it away, and that was my only meal all day. In my own head, that didn’t seem wrong. I was fat. Not eating would get me to where I wanted to be. So I just didn’t.
There were lower moments I had, too. I had moments where I hurt myself in more ways than just not eating dinner. There were times I would leave for school and then come back after my parents left, just so I could crawl back in bed because I couldn’t handle it. I remember grabbing on to my skin in the shower and wanting to rip it off, just wanting to shed all the fat I saw every time I looked into the mirror. Mentally, I was always exhausted.
What made things worse was that I didn’t have an incredibly hard life. Not really. I had friends. I had great parents. I had a job, a car, a decent amount of money, and a lot of other things that some people never get the chance to have. I felt stupid, being depressed and anxious and destroyed all the time, when I thought I didn’t really have a reason to be.
It took me a really long time to learn that you don’t need a reason to be depressed. You don’t need a reason to have low self-esteem. Those chemicals in your brain that make you feel that way, they don’t know about all the things you have. They don’t know that you have friends. They don’t know that you have a decent job. Your eyes, the same ones that see a fat girl in the mirror, they can distort your image. I never would have dreamed that could be the case, but when I look back at pictures of myself so long ago, I can’t believe I ever thought I was fat. It happens every single day to the best of us.
I wake up now, at almost 25 years old, and still have bad days. Sometimes it’s hard to go to work and pretend things are fine. Sometimes, when I’m texting a friend, I have to remind myself that they don’t hate me, despite my brain screaming at me that they do. Sometimes when I pick out my outfit for the day, I have to look away from the mirror so I don’t start to cry. Sometimes I have to tell myself to just make it through one more day, even when my thoughts are a constant mantra of ‘I’ll never be good enough for them, for anyone’.
The difference now, however, is that I know it happens to most of us. I know that I’m allowed to feel this way. I know that I shouldn’t feel guilty for the things I feel or the way I see myself. It’s a hard place to get to, believe me, but it’s a place I’ve finally reached.
I just hope it’s a place everyone else can reach, too.