When I was thirteen, a teacher asked my friends and I to complete a class exercise to dig deeper into ourselves and question “who we really are.” At first, I was thrown; this was the first time anyone had ever asked me such a question and the first time I ever really asked myself. I had no idea and realised that, besides the basic facts I knew about myself, I was speechless. It was then I realised that I was consumed by something bigger than me… a darkness that defined me, but not in a good way.
During my early adolescence, I hated myself and could look in the mirror and pick out endless flaws simply because that was all I saw. I was fat. I was ugly. I was the girl whose best friend turned on her and made me feel worthless. But, I guess that’s the thing about mirrors– they can make you or break you, be your best friend or your worst enemy. There was a time when I didn’t just hate myself but I would do just about anything to change my appearance so that I looked more like everyone else. Around six years ago, I nearly died of organ failure; most of it is a blur but the one thing I remember is the thoughts going through my head whilst being rushed to hospital. Am I going to die? But most of all I just felt empty, my condition was a result of me foolishly deciding to stop taking my epileptic medication because of the weight it made me put on. At the time, I was young, naïve and very insecure so I didn’t care about the potential risks because what was the point if I was still unhappy with myself.
When I look back to that time in my life, I feel so ashamed that I allowed myself to fall victim to a ‘disease’ that troubles so many young women all around the world. A ‘disease’ that we are exposed to from the minute we are born. A ‘disease’ that has killed more souls than anything else and one that is continually thrust upon us by society.
Growing up as a girl in the twenty-first century is difficult; with apps like Instagram and Tinder being a female in our current status quo means that you not only have to face critique from yourself but also from online trolls who can only speak when they have the comfortability of a keyboard beside them. It feels like we are in constant battle not only with ourselves but society also. We now live in a world men possess the ability to swipe left if they feel we aren’t good enough for their superficial desires, and as much as that worries me, it really is up to you how you let it define you.
It wasn’t until a few months ago that I made a conscious decision to no longer let my insecurities define me, there comes a time when you just have to accept that individuality is more important than succumbing to what everyone else wants you to be. I had to learn that the hard way and I wish that there was some way, I could tell all you young girls out there that it gets better. There really is light at the end of the tunnel, you just have to find the strength within you to follow it. Individuality refers to an individual, you, not your friends or your parents, it’s you. You are the only one strong enough to see the beauty of your reflection, at which point I can guarantee others will see it too. However, getting over your insecurities is easier said than done, for me it is a continuing journey whereby I am now starting to take better care of myself so that I can feel beautiful inside and out. I would still say that I have more bad days than good, and maybe that is something I will never get over, but for now I am learning to love myself and have a mutual understanding with my mind that although we may be different to what society considers beautiful; we are perfectly imperfect in our own way.