Back in February I wrote a post about choosing to love myself, and while it was pretty challenging to get all of my feelings into words, it was such a cathartic process: admitting that I've been my own worst enemy and publicly declaring "no more." It continues to be a daily battle — consciously choosing to ignore the lies and instead accept, love, and take care of the vessel I'm in — and yet it has also being a huge learning experience, because as I've been reflecting on the past 15+ years of bashing my body, I've realized something pretty significant: I missed out on a lot of what life had to offer because I was so consumed with my personally-perceived imperfections.
This struggle was probably at its worst when I was fifteen years old. As a sophomore in high school, I was pretty much your average teen, including that I was consumed with my physical appearance and what people thought of me. As a result, I had low self-esteem, and — because of some things at home and a strong belief that I couldn't express my emotions — I briefly struggled with depression that eventually led to a short season of self-injury, which ultimately brought me into counseling by sixteen.
For the last few months, I have been thinking — if I were able to go back and chat with that insecure, precious girl — what I would say to myself in that season of life: what words would I use? how would I approach her? would there be things I'd tell her to do or not do? would I just give her a big hug and let her in on the fact that things were going to be okay? Here is what I believe, if given the chance, I would share with my fifteen-year-old self:
Sweet girl, there are so many things to say yet not enough time, so let me start with this: you are so beautiful. In spite of how you feel or what you think other's might think or say about you or your body, you are so beautiful. You might not be a size zero, but you've got muscles that keep you moving and fighting like the badass you are. You might not have the perfect fill-in-the-blank, but you are more unique than you could imagine. You might not be the girl that all the guys want, but don't sweat it, because — and I'ma be honest here — they're pretty much all a waste of your time and emotions, and you've got way to much ahead of you to be concerned with them, especially right now (learn to say "boy bye"). And hey, you look good regardless of whether or not there's a guy next to you anyway. But above all else, your beauty far extends beyond what you look like. You are strong and compassionate and kind and weird in the best way. You fight for others, always believing in them because you see their infinite value. You are in tune with your emotions, which is a true gift, and I want to give you the permission to express them in healthy ways. You do not need to bottle them up for fear of no longer being considered "bubbly" and "joyful," and despite the isolation you may feel, you are not alone; you can absolutely talk with those you love and trust about the pain and the confusion you are experiencing. Please don't buy into the lie that only way you can relieve the emotional pain is through scratching, burning, or cutting yourself. But hey, even if you do those things, the grace is reaaal. And here is a bit of where you're headed:
You will learn to own all of who you are, including the weird quirks that you've always secretly loved. You will come to a place of accepting and loving your body no matter your jean size, because you'll know that — girl — you look gooood. You will smile that crooked smile and tear up every dance floor, not giving a rip with people think, because you've realized how awesome it is to fully be yourself and live in love. You will figure out how to process and express your emotions in healthier ways, owning your feelings instead of apologizing for them, and understanding your resulting gift of empathy. And even though you may bear some physical scars, they will be a daily reminder of how far you've come - how far God has taken you - and how much farther you're destined to go.
So precious girl, remember that you are beautiful, unique, and so loved, and that no matter what comes your way, you are strong enough to face it. And remember that love always wins.
— Your twenty-seven year old self (who is still a mess, but owning it)