“Hey Ugly,” an angry voice seethed. Instantly my entire body tensed, my face turned red, I felt myself lose my breath. I looked up slowly and saw her glaring at me. I walked by as quickly as I could to avoid being tripped or pushed over. She walked by, laughing with her friends, giving me a death stare as she passed. I exhaled as I choked back tears. When will this end?
Holy shit. Painful, right? Words can cut so deep, especially when coming from people older or “cooler” than us. Especially in our teen years we are vulnerable, emotional, and fragile. We believe what others tell us, and what we believe shapes us into the adults we become.
Growing up, I dealt with a lot of these painful, shitty run-ins with people bigger and scarier than me. I was emotionally beaten half to death, and felt ugly, fat and worthless. I crawled into my head, and stayed as quiet as I could so as not to be noticed. I starved myself, exercised constantly, and would tell myself how much of an asshole I was. I ended up believing all the mean and painful lies that my bullies told me day in and day out, and it turned me into my own worst enemy.
Sadly, the bully tends to have their own insecurities, and to make themselves feel better (which, as we know, doesn’t work), they point out others’ insecurities, thus starting a vicious circle. Pain equals more pain.
Even now, 15 years later, I am still battling with these memories. Thankfully I am much more confident in myself than my 14 year old self was, but there are still days where I want to hide under the covers and never come out. I still have fat days. I still have days where I look in the mirror and gasp at the sight of the bags under my eyes, and the wild hair I wake up to. We all do.
But I also have more respect for myself. I take better care of my body. I eat healthier. I exercise a few days a week, and I don’t beat myself up if I miss a day. I talk nicely to myself. I love my curves. I speak up for myself when I need to. I don’t let other people push me around. I am not scared anymore. But hell, was it ever a ride getting here.
I will not sugar coat it: change takes work. It takes getting your hands dirty. You have to really want to make the change, or else your work will fall flat on the floor. And I did. I wanted it so bad I could taste it. I went to therapy. I talked about all of my fears, my experiences, and I cried – a lot. Letting go of the negative experiences in my past helped me find myself. It was scary as hell, but man, was it ever worth it.
I have read stacks and stacks of self help books, listened to tons of podcasts and audios on self love, and put in a crazy amount of effort to really look at the way I was talking to myself, and how I was sabotaging my growth and strength. Now I know that the most important thing you can do for yourself is to be gentle. Take it easy on yourself! Treat yourself the way you would your best friend. If you make a mistake, forgive yourself. If something doesn’t turn out the way you planned it, get over it. Move on. And please, stop taking yourself so damn seriously.
Laugh. Joke. Dance. Sing. Move. Sleep. Cuddle. Kiss. Breathe!
Take deep, intense care of yourself. Shorten your “To Do” lists. Do more of what you love, less of what you don’t. Live a “want to” life, not a “have to” life. Live a little recklessly. Go with the flow. Enjoy the moment. Spend time with yourself. Life is too short for you to hate yourself. You deserve to be blissfully in love with You.
The road may be long, with enormous potholes and blurry lines. You might take two steps forward and one giant leap back. You might freak out, lose your shit, and scream bloody murder in the middle of the night.
The road may also have straight, smooth stretches with beautiful scenery and breathtaking sunsets. You might smile at that gorgeous girl staring back at you in the mirror. You might laugh, love recklessly, and enjoy the body you were born in.
Hold on tight, darling, and enjoy the ride.
Mandy Grier is a tattooed, glitter loving, rock and roll girl at heart, who also happens to be a Certified Life Coach over at Reckless Bliss. She has always been a bit of a fire starter, and doesn’t believe in taking anyone’s shit. She believes strong, courageous and rebellious women can change the world. Her base camp is in the woods in Northern B.C. which she shares with her husband, son and two pug babies.
You can find her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.