Lately, this topic has been brought up consistently in my life. With long discussions with friends and late night thoughts with myself, I decided that it would be a good idea to share my thoughts on this topic. I will be doing a mini series of several blog posts on loving yourself and really share my personal story on how I learn (and continuing to learn) to accept myself.
*** Please be advised that I am in no way an expert in this topic and am just contributing my thoughts. I really do hope that I do change at least one reader's perspective and want to reach out to more girls (and guys!) to really learn to accept themselves and their bodies. ***
Before I get into more specifics, I would love to get my story out there and how it inspired me to write these posts for the internet.
I am your city girl. Growing up in Toronto, I was exposed to all sorts of diverse culture and different people. A city that allowed the expression of who you are - especially being a downtown girl, it was all around me.
Throughout elementary school and middle school, I was surrounded by the same group of people. We all grew up in the same neighbourhood more or less and have continued to all be acquaintances, friends, and classmates due to geographic convenience.
Throughout those early years, I have met some great friends that I am still connected to today, but at the same time, the majority of them were not so kind. The insecurities begin in grade 3 when name-calling and gossip have become a common occurrence.
I was the girl with no special talents in anything, very naive and gullible, and very unsure of who I was. The girls I was constantly surrounded by always found a way to tear down my happiness - it began with being called ugly on a daily basis and made fun of having single-sided deafness; it continues to escalate as I aged. Now, the personal flaws that I have were being more specific and pointed out. Big nose, bushy eye brows, lazy eye, being deaf, being too skinny, no sense of style, acne face, and the list goes on. And all this experience only got myself to become a mean girl as well just to defend myself and verbally attack others as well. In the end, I was being toxic back to the girls who were being toxic to me.
Kind of ironic to find that young girls are not the only ones to tear you down. Parents were also contributing to the way I looked at myself. One particular memory was in grade 5, when I was at a girl's birthday party and the mother started going around the room numbering down who was the prettiest putting me at the end of the list. To this day, I can't believe a mother would do that.
With all this, I ended up believing I was worthless, ugly, and alone. I hated myself. As I try to seek for solutions, this only lead me finding the wrong things. Buying clothes, because what everyone else was wearing. Experimenting with makeup for the wrong reasons. Using abrasive products without any knowledge of the effects in the future. And of course, finding ways to put others down to make myself feel better. I became a monster to myself and to others.
In grade 8, when we were all choosing our high schools, I knew exactly what I needed to do. I needed to get away from the group I was forced to stay with all throughout my childhood. Applying to a school that really pushed my standards have really been the best decision of my life.
A high school was not restricted to being local, it accepted those across the city. Having strong values and high academic achievement, I was surrounded by all sorts of different people. And these people are some of the best peoples I have ever met in my life. People who didn't ever find a way to put each other down, but embrace the difference we all have in each individuals. Really made me change my perspective on others and began loving being around others. And nothing like kindness has really touched my heart.
Even though this change was good, the detrimental effect that I endured as a child was still firing inside of me. Entering grade 9 being super insecure, it still persisted all throughout high school - but I come to realize there are much more important things than how I looked. I started to let go of insecurities slowly each and everyday. I began to feel un-restricted in trying new things and began to really figure myself out. Once I found what I really enjoyed, that's when I started to learn to love myself. And even to this day, I'm still discovering what I enjoy and what I don't.
Today, I look back to my past, I feel so stupid and terrible for what I've done and for something I can't ever take back for myself and to others.
Now that I am sitting in second year of university, the dramatic change from my childhood to high school have shaped me to become a better person to myself and others. I do still struggle with some insecurities, but I have learn to accept that sometimes, some things are not changeable. Inside of picking at the surface issues, I found you have to really dig to the root problem to really figure things out.
Most importantly, I learnt to slowly love myself. And I really hope to share these experience to hear back from my reader's experience and build an online community to help at least one other person to love themselves.