"If I could share a piece of advice with my younger self, it would be to own my identity."
I did the math. I’ve been called beautiful just shy of 80,000 times in my life. What confused me was trying to figure out why this quality that I was praised for wasn’t a reflection of how I really felt. I often wondered if people saw me past my carefully applied eyeshadow and perfectly powdered face. The more I concealed my dark circles and acne scars, the less I was able to identify with the girl in the mirror before the foundation.
Our generation has seen the evolution of makeup application from enhancement of natural beauty to concealment of uniquely identifying flaws, or at least what our plastic society considers flaws. Our self-confidence is determined by the number of follows or likes we receive. Lacking self-love robs you of the ability to experience unwavering joy and peace of mind, despite the opinions of others. I knew that as long as I served my insecurity, it would control my life and suffocate my self-esteem.
I challenged myself. I went to a popular grocery store…makeup free. My hands were sweating profusely, my anxiety was at an all-time high and even after I left, I could feel the lump in my throat. I was proud of myself. I went home and cried my eyes out. It was painfully freeing, I guess that’s what they mean by, “growing pains.”
For me, it was my skin; for others, it could be physical attributes, relationship status, financial situation, or popularity. If I could share a piece of advice with my younger self, it would be to own my identity. As cliché as it sounds, there is only one you in the world and you have a right to be the best, most unapologetic version of yourself divinely possible. That means you date yourself, fall in crazy love with you, court yourself, and become relentlessly invested in who you are. Sometimes, that requires us to purge who we thought we were, redefine our expectations of ourselves, and go on a journey to rebirth our identities.
In my personal journey, I found that writing and in particular, poetry allowed me to connect with my feelings and express myself in ways nothing else did. Understanding what identity in Christ was allowed me to love myself the way God loves me: intentionally, purposefully, and unconditionally. Traveling allowed me to introduce myself to new people and new experiences without any previous expectations of who others thought I should be. I learned to be my biggest advocate during the best and worst times. I challenge you to passionately value your authenticity, your uniqueness and everything that entails. You have an undeniable right to love yourself. Anything less is a disservice to your destiny. I can assure you the result are more powerful than you think.