*This post may contain some content that is triggering to some readers*
First off, I would like to apologize for the lack of posts last week. First, my last computer decided to crap itself on me and I couldn’t finish writing my post. Then it was time for me to go to camp to help out with opening and week one of actual camp. And lastly, I have chosen to sleep instead of write because I am so tired. Now on to what you clicked on this post for.
If you know me at all or have learned anything from my blog, you’ll know that I am generally a pretty positive person. I have my bad days and I get cranky and turn into a monster, but I have worked really hard to get to the mindset that I have today.
For as far back as I can remember, I hated my self. What my face looked like, my skin color, my teeth, my weight, my hair, my life, my personality. Everything that made me who I was, I hated and wanted to change. Allow me to elaborate…
As my adult teeth grew in, they were crooked and I looked forward to the day I got braces so that they’d soon be fixed only to be told the next day at school “You look better without braces”. From that day on I couldn’t wait to get them off after that.
I am a little more than a quarter Portuguese but I am also part English, German, French, Scottish, Irish, and a very little bit Cherokee, according to what we know of the family tree. Because of the Portuguese genes, in the warmer months, I tan really nicely but it is like when autumn hits I am pale again. I get told I’m “too pale” and I need to get more sun so I can get a tan again. And, fun fact, as much as we want a tan, it’s still sun damage to your skin.
My beautiful blonde curls that sometimes show themselves to the world still bother me a little. Growing up I had super blonde and curly hair which over time turned into a straighter and slightly darker/dirty blonde. However, if it is humid or I get sweaty or out of some sort of body of water, you can bet your buns that I’ll get ringlets all around my hair making me look younger than what I already do (I do not look like I am going to be 23 in less than two months). On top of it, most people talk in a babyish voice and go “oh look at all your curls!”, thus making it worse.
But the thing I’ve struggled with the most is my weight. As far back to when I was about seven-years-old, probably younger, I thought I was fat and couldn’t wear bikinis. I started wearing tankinis but then I even thought that was too revealing of my weight. I would then wear one-pieces and try to hide my legs with swim shorts and my arms with long sleeve swim shirts. And the covering of myself more didn’t help with the whole pale criticization. And when I started to like my body even a little bit and tried to give my stomach some vitamin D, my friends would mock, “shield your eyes! She’s too reflective!” Which started the whole cycle again. About when I started middle school and into high school, I can remember my parents telling me that I “need to start losing some weight”… I wasn’t even big! It was mostly muscle from colorguard with a normal amount of normal belly, arm, and leg fat. I hated every wrinkle and crease, every roll and stretch mark, the size of my arms and legs. I hated when I looked down and had two chins and that my belly was never flat. I hated that my collar bones weren’t visible without sucking in. I would count calories and deny myself meals and snacks because I “hadn’t earned them” and I needed “to be good” I would feel great when people would tell me I looked good and I had only eaten about a meal and a half a day for a week or so. I would be hungry so often but I had to be skinny if I wanted to be successful in life or if I wanted to know what love was like. My weight was what I was most obsessed with and it controlled my life.
And that just the tip of the iceberg. I struggled with my mental health for so long and sometimes still do. I used to self-harm and I had thought about suicide before. For a while, I never thought I’d make it to twenty years old. But I’m here today to prove my past self wrong and maybe help someone else reading this. There are many different things that have helped me and some are “harsher” than others.
The main thing that helped me was, just like most people say, filter out the negativity in your life. In high school, I had to quit the colorguard due to an issue with my knees. Shortly after there were false rumors spread about me and I soon lost a good portion of my friends due to the whole situation. As much as I loved the sport, there was too much drama and after leaving I started to feel better, but I still wasn’t great.
I started a journal that helped me get my feelings, good and bad, out into the universe and stop bottling up everything all the time. I started turning the journal into a means of expression until I started this blog. And even though I don’t share exactly what I’m feeling like I would in a journal, the action of writing alone became therapeutic for me. I also like to read as a means of escape sometimes when the world gets a little too much all at once, or even on my breaks at work. For me, I think words, in general, can be comforting and I think everyone should try to write and read for fun at least a few times in their life.
Social media is such a big part of our culture but we don’t seem to realize exactly how much control over it that we have. Even recently I went through everyone I followed on Instagram and unfollowed everyone who negatively impacted me in any way (promoting products/methods that made me feel bad my size, people whose youtube videos I haven’t watched for a few years, people I haven’t spoken to in years, and people who just give off a bad vibe). One that I was disappointed to unfollow is Vanessa Hudgens. I have been a fan of hers since she got her big break in High School Musical back in 2006. She was one of my biggest role models. But she promotes products that make me feel bad about myself (i.e. the big one that is Fit-Tea) and I can feel myself get those negative and intrusive thoughts back, which I am sure is not her intention (I hope), but still an issue.
I don’t want to scroll through my social media and see comments and ads telling me I am not skinny enough, my teeth aren’t white enough, or my skin isn’t tan enough because you know what? I. Am. Enough. I am more than enough and I love who I am and I am willing to grow for the better. I am not “cushioning myself from reality” because the reality is that I, just as much as everyone else, deserves to be unapologetically happy.
If you are going through some sh*t in life right now, I highly recommend finding the sources and contributors to that negativity, whether it be your thoughts, people you know, or celebrities, and just remove them. Start small and then progress because the only place to go in life is forward.