When I look at pictures of myself ten years ago, I look into the eyes of a young girl with a heart full of scars and a distorted image of herself. I look at her but I don’t recognise myself anymore. Because ten years later, I have become an entirely different human being. One who is aware of her worth, has acknoledged her insecurities but has simultaneously found her strengths. I have turned into someone full of confidence, someone, 15-year-old me didn’t think existed. But in order to reach this point, I had to go on a long journey of self-reflexion and changing my mindset.
As a teenager, I used to be a people pleaser. My confidence was entirely defined by the approval of other people. In my early teens I felt like I always had to try to suit everybody in order to be liked and be worthy of someone’s attention and friendship. I still can’t really pinpoint the reason for this particular feeling but at some point I realised that it was getting me nowhere. And the thing is, as cruel as it sounds, all it does is make you feel even worse. And you’ll be taken advantage of. A lot.
I ended up cocooning myself, felt estranged from my environment. Hadn’t it been for my family who kept holding my head up, I don’t know what I would have done. When you become the victim of bullies, no matter how big or small the incidents are, it changes your way of self-perception. And after years of being lonely amidst a crowd of people, I felt utterly defeated. I haven’t really openly talked about this time in my life but recently I realised that it’s not only the good things that shape us but also the bad.
High school ended up being my personal turning point, confidence wise. New school, new people, new challenges. And the start of a journey of self-discovery. I had more responsibilities and slowly figured out that saying „No“ does not automatically make people hate you.
It’s ok to say No – Especially when a Yes would either make you feel uncomfortable or will end in you unnecessarily stressing out.
I always thought that if I was myself, people wouldn’t like me because I had always considered myself a weirdo. Turns out that we are all secretly weirdos on the inside. When I realised that everyone has their own baggage to carry, I stopped worrying so much about my own. And sort of set myself free for the first time. And from that moment on, my mindset changed and my confidence grew. I embraced my weaknesses and fears and started to turn those into strengths. Little reminder: Everyone is scared of SOMETHING.
Hold Onto Your Loved Ones
The friends I made in high school are those who literally changed my life. I suddenly felt accepted, wanted and needed. A feeling I hadn’t really felt up to this point outside the safe realm of my family home. The fact that they are still with me to this day reminds me of how real and important our friendship is. Because even distance hasn’t been able to tear us apart. They helped me change my mindset as well and just like my family they helped me become the person I am today.
Going abroad for half a year at the age of 22, all alone and without the continuous moral support of my family, really was a tie breaker for me. I didn’t realise how much this time away, exploring a country I have always had infinite love for, had changed me until I came back. Suddenly, I felt a new appreciation for everything around me and that hasn’t changed ever since. Everyday I wake up being grateful for all the things I have and have been able to do.
For the longest time I had struggled to find happiness within myself but when I went away I finally had the chance to truly figure out who I was and who I was aspiring to be. I got to properly listen to the voice inside my head for the first time, the one that’s adventurous, courageous, determined and most of all, full of excitement for what’s to come. When I walked through the highlands of Scotland I felt so at peace with myself, my past and all those who’ve shaped it in whatever way, I finally realised that I was ready to let go.
So I set the person I used to be free. The one that was full of doubt and self-consciousness and a hint of sadness that was lurking deep down in the dark corners of her mind, all hidden but still so subtly prominent. I realised that it doesn’t matter what you’ve gone through, all that really matters is what lies ahead. And suddenly I was fine. Fine with who I was. I had faked my confidence for so long but suddenly I knew that I didn’t need to anymore. Because I was fine. And even better, I had healed. Because I decided that the only person I really had to please was MYSELF.
You are accountable to none other than YOURSELF.
This does not mean that you’re supposed to become a selfish person. This means that you should let yourself be the person you are on the very inside. Because those who are meant to be in your life, will stay because of that very person. You’ll never be everybody’s darling but you’re also not supposed to be. There’ll alway be people who will dislike you, want to tear you down or make you look like a fool. But they might as well be going through hard times themselves.
Be kind. To yourself and to others. Appreciate what you have everyday. But also appreciate the things you’ve lost. Because all that is what has brought you here. Embrace your weaknesses by facing your fears and fighting them with something you’re good at. Think about what makes you unique everyday. Embrace that too.
And suddenly, you’ll stand strong and tall, feeling as if the world has got nothing on you.