It’s been a long time since I’ve written something like this (it’s been a long time since I’ve written anything, frankly), but I really feel like this is something that needs to be talked about.
I haven’t been much of a person that’s been affected by my body image or insecure about my looks. My motto has always been (at least as long as I was ‘young’) – What’s on the inside is more important than the outside. But I’m a hypocrite (aren’t we all?). I do care about the way I look, I hate when my hair is oily, I am not particularly fond of the parade of pimples that dots my face, my eyebrows are too thick and unruly. My arms are extremely thin, and post-COVID, they’ve gotten even thinner. My hips are too wide, my nails look weird.
Last year, I started to have a lot of trouble with anxiety. I couldn’t sleep at night, my heart would beat at double its regular rate, my legs would feel like spaghetti, and thoughts would constantly erode the peace of my mind. I started to hate myself so much, something that’s completely alien to me. I’ve always proclaimed my love for myself, people would look at me as a role-model of self-acceptance. And I genuinely have loved myself, always accepting the quirks for what they were and appreciating my talents.
But anxiety changed that. I would constantly put myself down, repeating intrusive thoughts in my head about how useless I am. Hatred filled every grain of my soul, I felt no motivation to do the things that I loved, to be with the people that mattered to me most.
I’ve had anxiety for many years, it just got aggravated during the last year and became unbearable. Deep down, I’d always feel like something was wrong with me, things weren’t right. While I’d always prided myself on being so self-accepting and feeling like I was really lucky to miss out on that insecurity that most teens my age are apt to feel, anxiety made me realize that everyone has problems, including myself.
After the anxiety became unbearable, I started therapy, but that didn’t work out for me very well. I switched to medicines which did create a positive change; they made me feel much better. I started to feel good again, felt like cycling, talking to my friends, writing. I had to change the doses a few times for the medicine to work just right for me.
But even anxiety medication won’t work for you if you genuinely don’t wanna get better. I knew that I couldn’t be this new, sullen me for any longer, and so I sought help. I started to look deeper into my problems, identifying them and mechanically searching for solutions. Unfortunately, life prefers spontaneity over orderliness. Identifying my problems made me ask myself over and over again – “What’s wrong with me? Others my age don’t have to take psychiatric medicines. I’m so messed up, I don’t deserve anything. What’s wrong with me?”
We are all made differently. Everyone has their own successes, their talents, but they also have their own problems. And to truly succeed at life, we have to get on the higher rungs of what we are good at instead of being pulled down by what we lack. And invalidating yourself isn’t the answer to that either.
One day, I was looking at the sky and wondering about its infinite expanse, and decided to do something. I surrendered my problems to the spiritual energy that envelops our universe. I surrendered my anger, my worries, my doubts about the future. And then my head cleared, and I was able to do something I wasn’t able to do before.
I thought about the issues that’d been plaguing me for years. I thought about the things that made me, me. And I realized that these issues are a part of me. And then I found the strength to truly accept myself for what I am. I realized that I didn’t need anyone else’s validation, as long as I had my own.
I don’t need sympathy for the things I’ve been through. Everyone goes through shit, and comparing circumstances with those of others is a dead end. What we need to do is take a good look at ourselves in the mirror and accept our pros and cons. Pretending like our cons aren’t valid just pushes us in the wrong direction.
And every now and then, when I literally look at myself in the mirror I think – I wish my arms had more flesh. I wish my skin wasn’t so oily, I wish my hair would be the way I want it to be. But I’m okay with that, because that’s just the way I am. I’m always gonna criticize myself for things I cannot change, but I have also found the strength to forgive myself for that. I have found the strength to look at the other side of the coin too.
We all struggle to accept ourselves, but we are all also capable of finding the strength from the inside.