You're you and you're always going to be you.

I think we have all struggled in some way with this idea. We are who we are, and nothing is going to change in that respect. While we mature and really mold into our permanent selves, we start to understand this more fully and completely. We start to accept that our appearances, our ideals, our interests and our talents are not going to do much changing after a certain amount of time. However, even though we start to accept it, I think many of us still have problems being OK with it and truly loving who we are both inside and out.

It starts young—wanting to to be someone different or wanting to look like the people we see in magazines and on TV. We are all guilty of it. I can remember the first time I ever felt self-conscious in my body and the way I looked. I also remember that my sense of self-doubt stemmed from liking a boy. How sad is that? At such a young age, girls and boys alike begin to question themselves because of the possible opinions of some other child. However, this is reality and it has been for many years. Young girls start slapping on makeup and boys think they need to hit the gym at 12 years old to start filling out. What would we give to tell our middle school selves what we know now?

But what do we know now? I feel at any age we still allow ourselves to succumb to our own doubt and our own insecurities. It’s part of being human, I guess. We still look in the mirror unsatisfied and we still compare ourselves to others as if we aren’t making the cut in terms of being desirable or wanted. It’s human nature to want to be wanted by someone else, and that isn’t something we can change. But we can change the way we feel about ourselves. We can find reasons to love who we are. We are all individuals with unique features and amazing qualities. Since when is that not enough? Since when are we not enough to satisfy ourselves?

It’s a cliche and it’s said over and over, but it’s one of the truest statements that we need to live by. We must love ourselves before anyone else can. People are going to come and go, and at the end of the day, we will always have ourselves. No one wants to be stuck with an inner self that they hate. Sure, I may not love every quality of mine, but I understand that even my worst qualities make up who I am. I can’t change those qualities, and I’m not even sure that I want to. It takes so much more effort to want to change everything about myself than simply accepting and liking who I am.

You are always going to be you. I am always going to be me. Nothing is going to change that, no matter how hard we try. As a society, we need to take a vow to stop comparing ourselves to others. We need to stop admiring the qualities that other people possess and start admiring our own. Our beauty and characteristics deserved to be cherished and desired. Self-loathing is unhealthy and exhausts bad energy. It’s OK to love ourselves, and we are worthy of feeling confident in our own skin.

Look in the mirror and feel proud of who you are. Explore your attributes, both physical and non-physical. Pick out the things you feel most proud of and use them to motivate your mentality. I’m slowly learning to do this. No one is perfect. And no one is saying that it’s easy to let go of all insecurities and self-doubt. But just like anything else, it takes practice and commitment. Commit to yourself and in due time you will radiate pride. The happiest people are those who know who they are, accept it, and love every piece of who they are- good or bad.

What makes you, you? Amazing things, I’ll bet.

Bet on yourself, and you will win every time.