Walking into middle school, I was terrified and I felt completely out of place. I come from a family where my dad was never home, my brother had left for college, and my mother pushed me to achieve greatness.
During my childhood, I was forced to dance ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop, to cheerlead, to model, and I never had the opportunity to make my own decisions. I grew up in a strict home where my mother believed that “children are to be seen, and not heard,” so to please her, I followed this rule to the extreme, shutting in all of my problems and insecurities.
My insecurities led to my feeling of loneliness. I forced myself to become sick- every day, and in a six-month period my body transformed, my experiences changed, and my ideals and goals were altered. I had lived with the feeling that I was alone, scared, miserable, and worthless for months, yet under all of these there was a small feeling of hope that I held on to tightly. One night, waking up in my bed with nothing but water in my stomach, I looked into the mirror and prayed that my life would dramatically become perfect.
One of the days soon following that night, I woke up and looked into the same mirror having the strength to smile. That smile gradually changed my hope into optimism, and it was that optimism that saved me. Now, four years later, I am known for my optimism, for a goofy smile, and for the ability to stop my life to help others.
I stretch myself to befriend the person in the corner, the creative geniuses, the future leaders, the ones who no one will talk to because they are “different,” because they remind me of who I was, and who I am.
I have learned so much about myself through these last couple of years, but my best contributions to myself were the people I met, and the message I learned from them. Perfection is not who you are, or what you strive to become, but it is rather what you accomplish by striving to be yourself.
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