True Self-Confidence Lies Within

Lauren - Cincinnnati, Ohio
Entered on May 17, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

What defines true self-confidence? Some may think it’s looking pretty enough, having enough friends, or some, like myself, believe self-confidence comes from one’s physical appearance.

I can’t even recall the year in which I first felt ashamed of my ears. They were larger than most kids in my grade and stuck out in a funny and somewhat embarrassing way. I never noticed a difference between my appearance and the appearance of other kids my age until one of my rude classmates insulted me by calling me “dumbo” to my face. Trying to lie to myself that words could never hurt me only allowed me to get through the rest of the school day. When I arrived home that afternoon, I shut the door to my room and broke down in tears. I knew deep down words could hurt, for I felt a sharp pain in my heart. After that incident I felt as though everyone was staring at nothing but my abnormally large ears. I thought no one could look past them and see the true me.

As time passed, my confidence continued to diminish until it reached rock bottom during my fifth grade year. Even though I still had great friends, I felt I could never get passed my ears. Taunting from certain classmates seemed unending, and I felt as insecure as one could possibly get. Knowing how much I was suffering with this insecurity and realizing this was the best option for me, my parents looked into Shriner’s Hospital where I would soon receive an otoplasty.

Ten years old is young for a child to experience surgery, but even though I was extremely nervous and scared, I knew my parents would be waiting for me when I awoke. I felt awkward returning to school and nervous about what the other kids might say or think, as for my first two weeks back I wore a low ponytail to conceal my new ears. I thought after awhile I would be more self confident than ever against my childhood bully, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. My rude classmate only welcomed me back with an embarrassing chant that I still remember to this day, “Roses are red, violets are blue, if I was you, I would’ve had plastic surgery too.” As I returned to my bedroom in tears after school that day, it was then that I realized no matter what I did to my appearance there would always be someone trying to bring me down. I rose with new hope and knew deep down that I was going to emerge from this experience a confident person.

Accepting myself for who I am was the first step: no one could tell me anything to change the way I felt about myself. I started to realize that I had let others define who I was for me and that’s something that I never want to let happen again. This experience was irreplaceable and helped my to grow into a stronger person and develop into the self-confident teenage girl I am today.