A couple months ago, I tweeted "I am realizing that even when I have these self-revelations I am still a work in progress and have more things to work on". Several months prior to this tweet, things began to look up for me. I got a new job, I moved into my own apartment (by myself this time) and got into a relationship. However, as the new faded, I realized I was still chugging along on my journey. I was able to deeply self-reflect and challenge what I thought I knew. Although this was something I had struggled with for some time, I knew it was time to face it. I faked the funk and skated around this issue long enough. I had to hit this thing head on! It was time to love myself for who I am, who I was becoming and accepting the things I could not change.
While I cannot pinpoint when it all started for me, I can say one of my pivotal moments was in the seventh grade. Due to Stivers being a performing arts school, I had to audition not only to attend the school but to be a part of the dance department I was auditioning for and I got in! I was excited and ready to embark on this new journey. However, I remember one day around the beginning of the school year my dance teacher spoke with me and she told me she wanted me to be lean. In the dance world, these types of conversations are normal, but the 13-year-old me did not understand that. Instead of hearing that she wanted me to be fit or healthy, I heard something totally different. I thought something was wrong with me. It did not help that I was also one of the biggest girls in my class. Those words "I need you to be lean" stuck with me. I never looked at myself the same and became very self-conscious. While I am not implying that my dance teacher should take full fault for what that conversation had done to me, I want people to understand how easy it is to implant negative perceptions of oneself without even having the intention to do so. As I got older, I understood what my dance teacher was implying, but at the age of 13, I was too vulnerable to handle such information.
As I reflect, I realize that things were not what it seemed to be and I find it is so interesting how we look at ourselves in those specific moments, to later realize we are only in our heads. I have looked back on numerous photos and have questioned what I saw. I use to look in the mirror and wonder why I was chosen to be fat or why I could not look like my friends. This mentality has stuck with me and occasionally sneaks up on me from time to time. It was not easy to hear someone request that you change how you look without providing the proper guidance on how to obtain this goal. It was not easy to hear those words without the reassurance that nothing is wrong with you. It was not easy to go day by day questioning why God allowed me to endure this struggle. At the time, my awareness on how I looked heightened while the comfortability in my own skin decreased. I began to compare myself to others, thoughts of jealousy filled my head and the love I wished I had for myself was not where I wanted it to be. Now do not get me wrong, I never hated myself, I just feel like I did not love myself like I should.
I wish I could end this article by saying that I have achieved full self- love, but I would be a liar and I always hope to be fully transparent with you all. What I can tell you, is that I do not view myself like I did years ago. As I have gotten older, I have been cognizant of what has influenced my perception of self. However, I have not been alone on this journey. I believe you do not have to be alone while learning to love yourself. I know I may have the unpopular opinion, but I believe it is okay to have someone help you on this journey. We now live in a society where we have become too independent (and yes it is possible) to the point that we feel we HAVE to do everything on our own. We do not. It took being in a relationship to shake off the thoughts in my head. Some may say, "Well you are giving them all the power to boost your confidence and they can easily take it back", but this is only if you allow them to. You are building the foundation that no one can break and that's what is important.
The people we choose as support are just as vital to you like a personal trainer whipping someone into shape. You can view them as reminders. I believe these reminders are the extra pushes we may need here and there. For me, my mans daily compliments or words of affirmation are reminders of where I am currently and where I want to be. You are still doing all the work. You just have someone there to remind you to keep going. On the other hand, It is possible to achieve this alone, but if you have the support or need the support, USE IT! Do not struggle where you do not have to. At the end of the day, the goal is to love you. Just remember, it does not matter how you get there, it matters that you made it.