I am not going to lie, I'm the first to admit a few years ago I avoided my own reflection in the mirror because I did not like who was staring back at me. Not just for physical reasons, although that was part of it, but also for emotional and mental reasons. I was not proud of the person I had become. I had let myself go. But then one day, I realized I am the one person in my life that I should never give up on.

A couple of years ago, I was presented with an opportunity that not a lot of people can say they get, especially coming from a small town — I was given the opportunity to leave. "Change" was not a common word in my vocabulary; plain and simple, I didn't like it. But I knew there was more I was meant to do with my life, that there was so much more happiness to be achieved. Besides, if we were meant to stay in one place our entire lives, God would have given us roots instead of feet. So, I did what any young girl does with so much more ahead of her: I packed up my life and moved across the country. I was excited, nervous, scared... you name it, I felt it. But I knew this was step one into my self-improvement journey.

Now, I am a huge advocate for self-love because that truly goes hand-in-hand with self-improvement. If you don't love yourself, how do you expect to put the time, effort and energy into improving yourself? Part of my self-love was loving and investing in myself physically. I wanted to stop avoiding mirrors, certain types of clothes and pictures. I decided no food or taste in the world could be as satisfying as putting on a pair of jeans and going, "Yes girl!"

So, I started running every day, eating all the essential foods our bodies need, and I began lifting weights. Using these key ingredients, along with the continuous support of family and loved ones, I am now able to see beyond my physical appearance and see pure confidence. My reflection now smiles back at me and then I ask myself, "What else do you want to accomplish?"

One of the harder challenges with self-improvement is admitting to yourself that the biggest change of them all is your mental and emotional self. The first step I took into making this change was discovering my passion for myself, which began my journey into discovering who I am and the kind of person I want to be. I learned that a big part of your mental and emotional well-being is who you surround yourself with.

You should surround yourself with people who make you want to be better, inspire you, believe in you, help you make the right choices, and ultimately challenge you to be the best version of yourself. And finally, surround yourself with those who want to see you flourish, and not people who take you down just because that's where they are. Sometimes those people don't quite understand your life's journey, but that is OK because it's not for them.

Self-improvement and self-care are so important. We have been given this one beautiful chance at life to live and to find and create ourselves. Spend this one life you have being your best-self, loving the person staring back at you in the mirror and loving the heart that beats within your chest. Know that you were put here and given this life for a reason, and know that you are worth the positive change. Often times we are too afraid to go after things, but never let the fear of failure paralyze you. You have to ask yourself what is really important and then have the courage to build your life around your answer. So, find your passion for yourself, find your voice and know that you are worth it.