Imagine being in the sixth-grade and already feeling chronically insecure about yourself. Constantly feeling like you are never good enough, like you are always being judged.
Unfortunately, this was me. There are many reasons that cause this. Life is hard, other students are mean, the media is distorted. Even with all of these things, however, only a handful of the people who experience them have severe insecurities about themselves. Why is this?
Mental illness is one of the biggest causes of self-esteem issues. I equate anxiety to thinking everything is wrong, even when things are perfectly fine. You constantly feel like you are not good enough and fear that everyone will reject you.
Although there is not a "cure" for mental illnesses, you can work toward a more positive mindset and learn to love who you are.
I grew up constantly trying to change myself. "If only I could be more like all the other students." I did not know the concept of self-love by any stretch of the imagination. I desperately wanted to be a different person who didn't have to deal with what I was feeling when in reality, I should have been celebrating my uniqueness. In our society, there's this belief that different equals wrong. It is ingrained in our heads to correct every little flaw we have, when, in fact, the very opposite is the truth. Our flaws are what make us special.
I don't know the exact moment that it happened, but I began to love myself slowly. I am still astounded when I look back at how I used to feel. The greatest improvements happened within the past few years. Perhaps it had something to do with seeing how far I've come in life and my achievements. My great support system of my best friends also helped exponentially. But I think the main thing was finally being in an environment where I feel comfortable being myself, where I know I won't constantly be judged.
Even with all of those things, I still took a long time to realize that I am enough the way I am. See, it is very difficult to change the way you've thought about yourself for your entire life.
I still have my hard days sometimes, but at the end of the day, I can look back and say I now love who I am.
I am no longer that middle school girl that tried to be like "everyone else." It's crazy to me that someone can feel this at such a young age. If I could, I would make sure no other person would ever have to feel that way again.
Loving yourself is a life-long process. I have come so far and can now say I love the person I have always been inside. I've learned how to celebrate my differences. I am also extremely blessed to be in an environment of people who also celebrates people's unique qualities.