I decided for my first article I would keep it very real. I recently got out of a relationship and with that decision came the amazing opportunity of focusing on myself again. While a little uncomfortable, I've spent this time securing who I am in my identity, and for that, I am so grateful. Unfortunately, I've also had to reacquaint myself with former insecurities brushed off by the distraction of a relationship. I'd like to talk about one, and how I am working through it.
Today, I want to discuss my lack of self-confidence.
A Little Background
Growing up, I have somewhat stood out. I grew up in a small, rural town consisting of around 2,000ish people, who on average, weren't exposed to many cultures due to the low racial makeup of the area. I didn't grow up with many other Asians except for the few times I went to a Korean church, but even then, I was called out for looking "American." The first question I often get upon meeting someone is, "So, what IS your ethnicity?"
For most of my life, I've been identified by my biracial background before anything else, and it has caused me to become conscious that people are at some inclination to look at me with a detective purpose. Through that, I have become self-conscious. I think about how in trying to possibly decipher my ethnicity, people will notice my acne scars, my freckles, the bump on my nose, and all the other flaws I see myself to have.
I was also bullied throughout my school years, with varying degrees of severity. I was made fun of through racial slurs and derogatory stereotypes. I was once bullied for my weight which spiraled me into what was dangerously close to an eating disorder, and I experienced slut-shaming. I couldn't understand why I was experiencing this and subconsciously attributed it to my ethnicity, since after all, it was the thing that made me different.
God's Answer To My Insecurity
Truthfully, when your appearance has been the believed source of so much rejection and teasing, it's hard to appreciate and love what God gave you. But as I was tossing around in bed the other night, debating if I should write this and be at risk for harmful comments, this verse came into my head:
"[T]hou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these." — Mark 12:30
Jesus was asked what the two greatest commandments were, and the second greatest is to love your neighbor as yourself. Now, if you aren't Biblical, my point is still applicable to the Golden Rule you're probably familiar with: treat others how you want to be treated. These two commandments are clear I should treat everyone with respect, but I've never considered the treatment I need to show myself. I am asked to give the same amount of kindness to others as I give myself, meaning there is an expectation for me to love myself first so that I may love others accordingly. For those of you well-acquainted with "Ru Paul's Drag Race," it's essentially when Ru says, "If you can't love yourself, how in the HELL are you going to love somebody else?"
Now, I know this isn't always the case. People are able to love others wholeheartedly while struggling to love themselves. However, what I'm trying to get at is if the universal Golden Rule and God's greatest commandment calls for us to love ourselves then this is a pretty big deal.
There are power and strength in loving yourself. It's OK to have a healthy dose of vanity or to be comfortable in your skin! Modern culture has nurtured unrealistic beauty standards, leading you and me to believe we were never made to be beautiful. But it's time to ignore social media. It's time to understand that there are various forms of beauty. It's time to understand that just because it's not typical or accepted doesn't mean it's less valued.
I've come to realize that my looks aren't all that I am. My worth isn't calculated by my race, how many boys are attracted to me, or the things people call me. I am the only person who chooses how I feel about myself. I define who I am, not the world.
So, in saying all of this, I'm making a promise to myself to remember I am beautiful, confident, and kind.
I hope you are able to do the same.