The first time my mom told me to be kind to myself I started to cry.
I cried because I wanted to love myself so badly, I wanted to believe in myself but to even imagine a life of confidence and free of anxiety … I didn’t know how to even begin.
Like a lot of teenagers, I spent all of my time in high school and into college concerned about what others thought about me. I was constantly anxious that I wasn’t funny enough, pretty enough, witty enough, or smart enough for other people. I was so caught up in curating this perfect person. I wanted to be the perfect scholar, perfect daughter, perfect girlfriend, and the perfect best friend.
And I honestly had those things. Throughout high school and college I worked really hard for my grades and those efforts often times paid off. I had good friends, good family, and a few relationships.
But did I LIKE myself?
No, I hated myself. Insecurity isn’t new.
But as long as I was making other people happy, then I was okay with taking on any burden. Scratch that. As long as people stuck around, then I was okay. I used that validity as currency that I spent when I felt like if I pleased them, then maybe, just maybe, I could allow myself a little bit of pride and a little bit of rest.
I thought things would be different after high school. I built myself back up and I started in a fresh city far away from the chaos and sadness that caused me and my family so much pain.
Perhaps I spoke too soon. I jumped into a relationship and a sorority, a life that felt like mine at the time. I was finally on the right track. But then my friendships deteriorated from neglect and ignorance. I watched another relationship crumble before my eyes. I wondered where I messed up, why I did this to myself and why I deserved this isolation.
It brought me back to senior year of high school.
I don’t like to talk about high school. I burned a lot of bridges after I graduated because frankly I was so embarrassed about who I was and what happened during the course of senior year I just wanted to disappear from the minds of my classmates. I cursed my beautiful city that I actually do love very much and I was such a brat to the people who were there for me.
There were many girls who were kind to me and I’m sorry if I did something stupid like unfollow you on social media or delete your number. And I’m sorry I’m just writing a stupid blog post on the stupid internet like a stupid coward. But I hope that someday I can repay you for your kindness.
(There were also girls who were not so kind. I don’t feel so bad about them. Anyways. I digress.)
I went to an all-girls high school, and honestly, I loved it. I loved being around all girls, I loved my teachers and I loved what I studied.
High school is confusing. Some girls were kind, some girls were mean. Some were a mix of both. We were all just trying to figure it out. I know that I used to be very selfish and mean – I’m not afraid to admit that now. And there were times when I looked back on how I acted and I am ashamed of myself.
I was caught up in the validation my friends gave me that it was only when I was totally stripped of everything did I realize that the pain inflicted on me was something I would have done too, because I was a part of that crowd.
This whole situation is hard to explain, and I am being purposefully vague. I don’t even have all the answers myself.
Maybe it’s not my fault that these things happened, but I also didn’t stop the hatred and sadness from corrupting my heart. I felt entitled to my anger.
It’s really only now, almost four years later, that I’m starting to reconcile that version of myself.
If I could go back to every instance that I felt my heart get cold, I’d tell myself to just be kind.
I’ve been so bitter and angry at pretty much everything for so long. I’m the textbook definition of an angsty teen. Shit. I’m 21.
But I just want to be kind. Effortlessly kind, not kind because it’s good and proper but kind because it’s a part of me.
Shit happens, that’s life. I can’t control other people. I can’t control bullies and I can’t control breakups. But I can be kind.