Fat. Cankles. Ugly. Nerd. Freckle-Face. Ginger. Slut. Jesus-Freak. Rich. Annoying. Stupid. Weird.

Words hurt. People are mean. Bullies suck.

Growing up, I definitely did not receive the award for being the cutest or prettiest girl in school, or at least it didn't feel like it. I had short red hair, a face full of freckles, braces, and overly large feet. People called me names. "freckle-face" and "ginger" were words I heard daily. After school I would come home crying to my mom. She tried to help. She told me I was beautiful. She said the people calling me names were just mean. I wanted to believe her, but I couldn't. I felt ugly, defeated, and alone.

Words hurt. People are mean. Bullies suck.

In high school, things were different, but they weren't necessarily better. Yes, I had more confidence, but I still wasn't genuinely happy. Because I live on a farm, I was considered rich. Because I spoke openly about my love for God, I was considered a "Jesus-Freak". I was hurt, angry, and alone.

Words hurt. People are mean. Bullies suck.

In college, I gained weight. People noticed. Some called me fat, others made fun of my "cankles". When I looked in the mirror, I saw a sad girl who believed in the hurtful words others said about her. I felt disgusted, unconfident, and again, alone.

Words hurt. People are mean. Bullies suck.

So what.

A few months ago something clicked inside of me. I'm not sure what it was or why it took so long, but it did. One morning I woke up, looked in the mirror, and I realized I had to change. I could not continue to be this unconfident, depressed girl anymore. I didn't want to feel fat or ugly. I didn't want to feel alone. I want you to know that my mindset didn't change over night, it took months to get to the place I'm at right now, but let me tell you, I've never felt better.

For me it started on the outside, I joined Advocare and began to learn how to eat healthy and exercise properly. I met a community of wonderful people who helped me realize that these changes need to be for myself and only myself. As the weight came off, my confidence went up. I began to feel beautiful on the outside, which in turn, helped me to feel more confident on the inside.

Call me selfish. I'll tell you I finally have my priorities straight.

Call me a "ginger". I'll tell you my red hair is rare and beautiful and I will not change it.

Call me "freckle-face". I'll tell you I'm lucky because I've been kissed by angels thousands of times.

Call me a nerd. I'll happily go back to studying to better my future.

Call me a "Jesus-freak". I'll smile and tell you that Jesus loves you.

Call me weird. I'll tell you I'm just having fun.

Call me ugly. I'll tell you I'm beautiful.

Call me whatever you want, I don't care. I hate to burst your bubble, but your words don't hurt me anymore, they only make me stronger.

To the bullied: Show them that you are better. Show them that you are confident. Show them that you are stronger. Show them that you are not alone. Show them that the words they say about you don't define you, but empower you. Show them that bullies suck.