My journey towards self love began around age 25. Growing up, I had a rough childhood and the patterns of extreme adversity I faced continued through my early 20’s. I was an only child (for the first 10 years of my life) who often resorted to playing with babydolls and Barbie’s as an outlet. When I got into my pre-teen years, I transitioned into playing with my hair and makeup which resulted in becoming more self aware of my appearance. Not to mention the surge of hormones that make us all a little coocoo during those prime puberty years. I began to obsess in the mirror over my appearance and hated everything I saw in my reflection.
As a mixed girl, I felt so confused with my identity. I transferred schools often because my mother and I moved frequently and I was bullied, so I didn’t have a solid group of friends. Whenever I started at a new school students would ask, “What are you? Mexican or White?” I would then explain that I am German, Scottish, and Nicaraguan and immediately become insecure because I didn’t feel “enough” of anything. My mom was born in Nicaragua, but primarily spoke English to me. I was painfully shy and was scared to speak my second language out loud until much later. My paternal grandmother was born in Germany and I went to German school on Saturdays, but I started later than other kids in my class and felt insecure that all the younger children were more fluent than me.
The confusion I faced with my identity transformed into body dysmorphia. When I looked into the mirror I despised my reflection and would think to myself, “I wish my hair wasn’t wavy. Why can’t I have corkscrew curls or stick straight strands so that I can fit in more with one side or another? I wish I could be tan so that I could look more like my mom and the Hispanic girls at school would accept me faster.”
When puberty hit I prayed for large breasts every night, that never came, so I fantasized about the day I would be able to get a breast augmentation while watching MTV’s “True Life: I’m Getting Breast Implants.” I was also a very picky eater and was extremely slim which adults would often point out deepening the insecurities that surrounded every inch of my being. I despised when teachers or my friends parents would endearingly touch my back out of fear that they would feel the way my bones popped out of my skin and say something about it. My insecurities ran deep from a young age and I was miserably unaware of how to love myself until my mid 20’s.
As I mentioned earlier, I had a rough childhood and my difficulties continued through high school and college. I had extensive falling outs with various family members from senior year in high school and sophomore year in college that affected me tremendously. I felt betrayed by the tribe that raised me which resulted in immense heartache, financial hardships, and deepened my anxiety to new heights. The stress became so difficult that I began breaking out in hives and having night sweats throughout the night that caused me to change a handful of times because my clothes were soaking wet. I felt as though I was mourning the loss of my loved ones and I felt so alone.
The financial hardships caused me to take several breaks from college and pushed me to focus on work to survive rather than my career long term. I was working in retail as a stylist and later as a manager. I loved the company I was employed with and threw myself into work which was so rewarding. My finances fell into place at the perfect time and I was grateful for that, so I continued dedicate myself to work. After four years with the same company, I had an epiphany that it was time to shift my priorities and focus on finishing school. My love for work began to consume my life and eventually I had no balance, so I made the difficult decision to leave and work part-time elsewhere until I finished my Bachelor of Arts in Humanities. Since I was leaving my former employer, I had to get new insurance but wanted one more doctor visit before my coverage expired. I made an appointment the day before my insurance ended and was diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety. I couldn’t even talk about my symptoms or circumstances without crying at the time. The doctor encouraged me to take anti-depressants, but deep down I knew what I was going through was manageable as long as I made serious life changes.
As I transitioned into my new life as a broke college student working part-time, I was also going through a hard breakup. This breakup was a significant game changer for me because after that relationship ended was the first time I consciously chose to spend time alone and learned how to love myself. For the first time in my life I had no desire to date, rebound, nothing. I just wanted to be alone, do things I loved, and learn who I was. This was something I had to do in solitude so that I could block outside noise, other people’s opinions, and focus on myself. While I wish I reached this phase sooner in life, I felt this was the first time I was ever truly ready. Something just clicked and I had no desire to flood my life with anything that no longer served me. While I began healing and working on myself I also I began building new friendships, strengthening old ones, and when blogging came into play more seriously.
I’ve shared many times in the past that blogging helped bring me out of a depression and it really did. I have always been a creative person, but for so long I didn’t have time to breathe let alone make space for my art. Once I left my full-time job to focus on school and got out of a toxic relationship my soul yearned to be filled with a creative outlet. I finally had the mental and physical space to style outfits on my own time and take pictures around my neighborhood. My friends were so supportive and helped me shoot content several times a week. I felt fulfilled for the first time in a long time. That was the summer of 2015 and I have continued down this path ever since. Blogging is still a huge part of my life- one of the biggest parts of my life- as I have chosen to pursue my creative outlet as a career post college graduation.
While I still struggle with mild body dysmorphia and bouts of sadness and anxiety it is very mild compared to what I went through in my early 20’s. I no longer hate every inch of my being when I look at my reflection and I have learned to love the traits that my mixed genes express. The irony about obsessing over how much I hated my wavy hair at a young age is that it is one of the features I get complimented on the most as an adult. One of the key components I learned during my self love journey is that spending time nurturing yourself is necessary. Once I sought and found balance, it took so much unneeded pressure out of my life. During my self love journey I formed my own opinions and learned how to express them. I also learned that I can be happy all by myself. I continue to be fueled by alone time and protect the energies around me. I am a very sensitive and intuitive person, so in order for me to experience inner peace I have to be careful with how I spend my time and who I surround myself with. Guarding my heart and mind with awareness of how certain experiences or other people influence my spirit has been pivotal in maintaining a positive mental state. I can’t help but wish I had things easier growing up, but the hardships I faced have made me resilient, strong, and intelligent, so I wouldn’t trade those qualities in for anything else.
If you enjoyed this piece, be sure to check out I’m Not Ashamed Of My Mental Illness