When I was three years old, I was gifted with a “lazy eye,” and glasses. I don’t remember the first time I put them on, or picking out the Minnie Mouse frames, but I remember feeling different and flawed. As a three year old, I felt insecure and that I was being punished.
I remember standing outside my preschool waiting to get in the van for a field trip, and looking at the other little girls around me. None of them had glasses; they were all perfect and pretty. Those little girls were pretty enough to be princesses and ballerinas, but I felt inadequate. When Halloween came, I always chose a clown or animal costume- I was un-fit to be a princess.
At some point I realized I could make people laugh. Although it most times made my parents angry, and elicited a “talking to” or some soap in my mouth, in the moment, I felt like a star. I knew I couldn’t get attention for being pretty so I would attempt for it the only way I could- by being goofy; using my awkwardness to my advantage.
As I grew older, not much changed. Being the center of attention was euphoric, and getting praise and appreciation was the greatest high. I strove to be the best at everything I did, and if I wasn’t the best I would quit. Nothing felt worse than having glasses, and getting my ass kicked. Through winning art competitions, being named “best dressed,” getting a 4.0 GPA, and toughing through an eating disorder, it never quite clicked that being the best, the brightest, or the skinniest was not going to make me love myself. After a failed long-term relationship I realized others loving me wouldn’t make me love myself either.
Now I firmly believe that in order to be happy with my accomplishments and appreciate my abilities, I have to love myself. Ever since I can remember, I skipped over loving myself to make sure others would love me; only to find that there is truth to Maslow’s hierarchy- there is no self actualization without self efficacy.
This seemingly simple truth has posed a challenge in my life. As badly as I want to find my passion and live my purpose, it is clear to me that I need to truly, deeply love myself before I can identify my purpose. I need to appreciate my gifts not because of the attention I get for them, but for the joy and meaning they add to my life. I need to remember that every fiber of my being makes me who I am, and it is not my flaws that define me, but my strengths.
At twenty years old, in the midst of a consolidation of “perfect” girls, it is my goal to remember to love every inch and ounce of myself. My vessel is filled with treasures unlike any other, and loving them will enable me to one day use them for their purpose.
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