When Your Insecurities Try To Overwhelm You, Reflect On How Far You've Come From The Past

When Your Insecurities Try To Overwhelm You, Reflect On How Far You've Come From The Past

They'll always be there to scare you, but you have to show that they don't decide your life for you.
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There are those days when you feel all of your insecurities come crashing down, and you feel like nothing you do will make them go away. You're on an emotional roller coaster that seems to only be going up for so long, but now, you feel like you're quickly falling. Those days will come and go, but what's important is what you can do to make them disappear sooner. When you feel bad about yourself, reflect on how far you've come from the past.

I, like many people, I pay a lot of attention to my body image because I do feel affected by standards to look skinnier. And there are days when I worry that it'll be impossible to reach the image that I want to look like, but I realize that I've done it before. Two years ago, I successfully lost 15 pounds in a few months with simple adjustments in my diet and exercise routine, and I was able to maintain that weight for over a year.

So, I can do it again.

I can fix how much I exercise and track what I eat like I did that one time, and that discipline I'd once built for myself will return. No matter how impossible it seems, I've done it once. I've actually proven my insecurity wrong before, meaning there's no reason for me not to be able to do it again. I do have to admit that it will be tough to get back into my old, healthier habits, but once I familiarize myself with those simple changes, there's nothing that can stop me.

Those fears in the back of my mind that drag my mood will no longer be able to tell me that I'm not stronger than them. Something to remember when they do appear is that they're just built off what you consider "perfect" compared to who you are. And although it's cliché to say this, you really are perfect just the way you are.

I look back to my progress photos from those years ago as I attempt to accomplish my new year's resolution of having a better image of myself, and I can see the evidence of an improvement in my image and my mood. I can see myself progressively get happier in each photo, taken once a week. I can see myself conquer my insecurities.

And the bad day passes, so I comfort myself back to my original, happy self. It's natural to have insecurities, and it's natural to struggle through those disheartening days. But they will always happen, and you just have to keep your head held high. You cannot expect to have insecurities and not do anything about them, expecting them to go away easily. You either have to defeat them by telling yourself that they don't matter or changing yourself to no longer be scared by them.

But letting your insecurities control how you see yourself is out of the question.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash / Jad Limcaco

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Yes, I Had A Stroke And I'm Only 20

Sometimes bad things happen to good people.
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Recently, I read an article on Cosmo that was written by a woman that had a stroke at the ripe old age of 23. For those of you who don't know, that really doesn't happen. Young people don't have strokes. Some do, but it's so incredibly uncommon that it rarely crosses most people's minds. Her piece was really moving, and I related a lot -- because I had a stroke at 20.

It started as a simple headache. I didn't think much of it because I get headaches pretty often. At the time, I worked for my parents, and I texted my mom to tell her that I'd be late to work because of the pain. I had never experienced a headache like that, but I figured it still wasn't something to worry about. I went about my normal routine, and it steadily got worse. It got to the point that I literally threw up from the pain. My mom told me to take some Tylenol, but I couldn't get to our kitchen. I figured that since I was already in the bathroom, I would just take a shower and hope that the hot steam would relax my muscles, and get rid of my headache. So I turned the water on in the shower, and I waited for it to get hot.

At this point, I was sweating. I've never been that warm in my life. My head was still killing me. I was sitting on the floor of the bathroom, trying to at least cope with the pain. Finally, I decided that I needed to go to the hospital. I picked up my phone to call 911, but I couldn't see the screen. I couldn't read anything. I laid down on the floor and tried to swipe from the lock screen to the emergency call screen, but I couldn't even manage that. My fine motor skills were completely gone. My fingers wouldn't cooperate, even though I knew what buttons needed to be pressed. Instead of swiping to the emergency call screen, I threw my phone across the room. "Okay," I thought, "Large muscle groups are working. Small ones are not".

I tried getting up. That also wasn't happening. I was so unstable that I couldn't stay standing. I tried turning off the running water of the shower, but couldn't move the faucet. Eventually, I gave up on trying to move anywhere. "At what point do I just give up and lie on the floor until someone finds me?" That was the point. I ended up lying on the floor for two hours until my dad came home and found me.

During that two hours, I couldn't hear. My ears were roaring, not even ringing. I tried to yell, but I couldn't form a sentence. I was simply stuck, and couldn't do anything about it. I still had no idea what was going on.

When the ambulance finally got there, they put me on a stretcher and loaded me into the back. "Are you afraid of needles or anything?" asked one EMT. "Terrified," I responded, and she started an IV without hesitation. To this day, I don't know if that word actually came out of my mouth, but I'm so glad she started the IV. She started pumping pain medicine, but it didn't seem to be doing anything.

We got to the hospital, and the doctors there were going to treat me for a migraine and send me on my merry way. This was obviously not a migraine. When I could finally speak again, they kept asking if I was prone to migraines. "I've never had a migraine in my whole life," I would say. "Do you do any drugs?" they would ask. "No," I repeated over and over. At this point, I was fading in and out of consciousness, probably from the pain or the pain medicine.

At one point, I heard the doctors say that they couldn't handle whatever was wrong with me at our local hospital and that I would need to be flown somewhere. They decided on University of Maryland in Baltimore. My parents asked if I wanted them to wait with me or start driving, so I had them leave.

The helicopter arrived soon after, and I was loaded into it. 45 minutes later, I was in Baltimore. That was the last thing I remember. The next thing I remember was being in the hospital two weeks later. I had a drain in my head, a central port, and an IV. I honestly didn't know what had happened to me.

As it turns out, I was born with a blood vessel malformation called an AVM. Blood vessels and arteries are supposed to pass blood to one another smoothly, and mine simply weren't. I basically had a knot of blood vessels in my brain that had swelled and almost burst. There was fluid in my brain that wouldn't drain, which was why my head still hurt so bad. The doctors couldn't see through the blood and fluid to operate, so they were simply monitoring me at that point.

When they could finally see, they went in to embolize my aneurysm and try to kill the AVM. After a successful procedure, my headache was finally starting to subside. It had gone from a 10 on the pain scale (which I don't remember), to a 6 (which was when I had started to be conscious), and then down to a 2.

I went to rehab after I was discharged from the hospital, I went to rehab. There, I learned simple things like how to walk and balance, and we tested my fine motor skills to make sure that I could still play the flute. Rehab was both physically and emotionally difficult. I was constantly exhausted.

I still have a few lingering issues from the whole ordeal. I have a tremor in one hand, and I'm mostly deaf in one ear. I still get headaches sometimes, but that's just my brain getting used to regular blood flow. I sleep a lot and slur my words as I get tired. While I still have a few deficits, I'm lucky to even be alive.

Cover Image Credit: Neve McClymont

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'Sierra Burgess Is A Loser,' And So Am I

The latest of the Netflix rom-coms, "Sierra Burgess Is A Loser" spoke to me for reasons other than the relationship.

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When I watched "The Kissing Booth" and "To All The Boys I've Loved Before," I watched them for the sole purpose of enjoying them. I watched "Sierra Burgess Is A Loser" because I wanted a distraction from my reality for a little while. I thought it would be a mindless two hours.

Instead, I found myself really emotional while watching it.

As Sierra struggled to fit in, I found myself remembering how I felt coming into high school and then again while coming into college. I don't really make friends easily, and while I haven't really been bullied since freshman year of high school, Sierra's struggles with being bullied and picked on for how she looks and acts really hit home. Even being far removed from my own experiences, the feelings all came rushing back to me.

Her sole friend at the beginning of the movie is Dan. He accepts her how she is and does the typical best friend things. Yes, he makes jokes at her expense (as many friends do), but he also supports her in all things. She tries out for the boy's track team, and Dan joins her. He doesn't let her wallow in self-pity.

Just as real friends though, he can't do everything. As she loses herself in the middle of the film, Dan distances himself. She doesn't accept his help, and he's hurt by her actions. I'd be lying if I hadn't done that to multiple friends. I didn't have many friends before high school (and even in high school), and I often hurt them without really thinking.

I understand her lack of self-confidence (it's something I still struggle with.) I understand comparing yourself to cheerleaders. I understand looking at myself in the mirror and not seeing what people wanted to see.

It isn't a fun feeling. In the movie, Sierra's feelings push her to attack one of her new friends because she believes that this friend is getting what Sierra wants. While I don't think I've done what Sierra did, I've definitely lashed out when my friends "got" a guy I liked or got a role that I wanted in a musical.

Right near the end, Sierra writes a song called Sunflower. If you haven't heard it, google it. I almost started crying while I listened to it in the movie. I have often felt like a sunflower in a world that wants roses.

This movie isn't perfect. In fact, there is an extremely problematic plotline where she pretends to be deaf to avoid talking to Jamey, her crush. Not cool. But in the grand scheme of rom-coms, this was one of the few where I didn't care what happened between Sierra and Jamey. I cared how Sierra thought about herself. I cared about if she and her friends made up.

I'm still struggling with some of the feelings Sierra struggles with, so I think part of the reason I liked this movie so much is that it ends with her fighting through her problems and trying to find the beauty in being Sierra and not Veronica.

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