I've made so many changes to myself and my life in the last couple months and this new adventure with the College of Charleston Odyssey team is just one more to add to the list.
Most of these changes have one thing in common: learning to love myself and doing things that I love. It's been anything from changing my hair color to making new friends, being spontaneous, even the simplest concept of standing up for myself and now creating content. It's a decision I made to start living my life fearlessly, not caring what other people think and working on my own self-esteem.
Self-esteem is one of those things that people push aside or just never talk about. Our society tends to focus more on self-confidence and projecting that out to others, which I've always thought was what I needed to be focusing on in order to love myself.
Ummm, apparently not. Self-confidence is often mistaken for being solely about appearances, which I believe is the perception that our generation has chosen to adopt.
It's created a world where there's an expectation that if you have a nice body, fancy clothes and pretty hair, then you'll have self-confidence and no self-love issues. But, you can easily change your hair, drop a few pounds and re-vamp your wardrobe. It's deeper than that - it's your self-esteem. Self-esteem is you judging yourself and having an attitude towards the person on the inside. This includes thoughts, feelings, actions and your personality.
There was one huge obstacle in the way of focusing on your self-esteem: it's learning that people will judge you all day long no matter what you do. You have to get over the fact that it has nothing to do with you, but it's their own problems projected onto you. You can't make everyone happy. People will come and go during your whole life, but you're stuck with yourself at the end of the day. That's the key. It's learning to be happy with that person is the hardest thing to do.
I've struggled my whole life caring so much about what other people think and worrying if someone doesn't like me. But during all of those moments, I lost who I was inside, what I wanted out of life and who I wanted to be. It's hard learning to love yourself when you don't even know who she is.
Luckily, in the last couple of years, I've slowly started coming out of my shell, finding who real Hannah Cramer is, and working on becoming a person I love.
I still have moments when I'm scared to death about something (like writing for the Odyssey) because I'm thinking about what other people will say or think rather than what I want. I still haven't mastered the whole self-love thing, but I'm getting there and I'm constantly working on it.
I've pushed myself to be a better version of myself, done things that scare me and surrounded myself with positive people who encourage me to love myself. It's so important to learn to love yourself because it's a short life and you've only got one shot.
So go out and be happy with who you are (while waving bye to the haters).