When I was in eighth and ninth grade, you could say I was the epitome of insecurity. My friends repeatedly pestered me for “not hitting puberty,” so I stuffed my bra with toilet paper. I was always spoken over and teased for my height (5 feet) so I wore heels almost every day. I was scared my interests were too different than my friends’ so I didn’t voice my opinions. I didn’t think I was good looking, I didn’t think I was appealing as a person, and most importantly, I didn’t love or accept myself.
Then tenth grade happened. Somewhere I realized that the problem was not me, but the people I was constantly around. I realized they didn’t respect me in the slightest, so I essentially gave myself a year. I didn’t attach myself to anyone, I spoke to anyone who was friendly enough to listen to me, I tried new things like biology club and participating in the school play. I put my focus into road biking and training for my black belt, I joined a gym, and I no longer associated myself with a clique at school. I was, as some have described, a “floater.”
The result: I found people who were like me. I found people who were in similar extracurriculars, people who had a similar sense of dark humor as I do, and I found friends who lifted my spirits instead of dragging me down. I realized that for so long I feared being alone, that I put up with a group that toyed with my feelings and my thoughts, when what I needed was to leave it behind.
By spending a year to focus on myself, I learned to accept the way I look, from my height to my chest to my facial features. Instead of hiding from the mole at the tip of my nose I started liking it…it made me feel unique. I think it was certainly a moment of personal growth, and I learned valuable social skills as well.
I suppose the moral of the story is…it’s scary to ditch old habits and try something new. It is scary to take a step that you know will leave you all alone. It is scary to admit to yourself that you are unhappy, and to try and change that in ways that are uncomfortable and difficult. But in the end, the best person to have by your side is yourself, and it is important to keep yourself both safe and happy. Even if it means you should take some time off to focus on yourself, or step out of your comfort zone to try and make new friends. You are a beautiful person, and sometimes it takes some work to realize it. But when you do, the fear and the doubt will be so worth it.