For years, I have had issues with loving myself. My insecurities developed while I was still in elementary school. In third grade, a girl bullied me because I was the only African American girl in the study, and I was quiet. She always had something to say about how I dressed, how my hair looked, the way I talked, and how short I was. I was the odd girl out for some reason. I tried hard not to let race bother me, but that was difficult, considering I was the only African American in my class. Even so, my mother always taught me not to judge someone by the color of their skin.
The girl eventually stopped bullying me because I went to my mom and told her about my situation. My mom was disappointed that I let her bully me for an entire school year. However, my mother knew I wasn't born a fighter, so she handled that fight for me, and I always appreciated her help. Another bully popped up in fourth grade, but that one didn't last long,because I discovered the indispensable “block” button. She wanted to bully me over text messages, and I quickly shut that done. I knew from then on that I was always going to be a target because I was shy. People enjoy taking advantage of the ones they think are weak.
Prior to middle school, the only insecurity that weighed on my heart was my love for Justin Bieber. Once I reached those gates of hell, my insecurities were magnified. My classmates picked on me all the time because he was my favorite singer. I couldn't walk down the hallway without a guy saying something smart or slick to me about liking him. I never could understand why so many people hated Justin Bieber. One guy named Skylar that I had a crush on in sixth grade even told me that if I stopped liking Justin Bieber, he would date me. That did not persuade me one bit. How could you not date a girl because of someone she likes? What sense does that make?
My high school years let me know that my insecurities weren't planning on going away. I had more insecurities in high school than I ever did before. I think about that now and get upset because there was nothing wrong with me. I was smaller, more creative, and got good grades. For some reason, I always befriended girls that were bigger than me. My mother and father pointed this out to me while I was in high school. They thought it was funny. I wouldn't do this on purpose; it just happened.
My friends hated when I would say that I was fat and shouldn't be eating fatty foods. They thought I was taunting them because they were bigger than me. That was never the case. I don't look at the size when it comes down to making friends - just like I don't look at color. This tension collapsed my friend group, as I was judged based on my appearance, rather than the contents of my heart. They found numerous things to pick on me about - like how I couldn't drive or go anyway without my mom knowing.
These days, I still struggle with loving who I am. My insecurity scale ranges depending on the day. One moment I feel like I'm pretty and I'm worthy of many things in this world. The next day, I feel like I am the ugly thing on planet earth.
However, my mom says we all have those days. We see a demon in the mirror that we shouldn't see. Size, color, or looks shouldn't matter when it comes down to loving you. It's not just about just loving yourself - it's about doing things to love yourself, and I am learning that every step of my journey. I'm not where I want to be in my size or attitude, but I know I will get there and be satisfied with who I am once I am there. Loving yourself doesn't come when you want it to. It takes time, and you have to learn to have patience until you get there.
Written by: Audre Arnett