Not So Skin Deep

“If flowers can teach themselves how to bloom after winter passes, so can you.”

My bully didn’t shove me into lockers or pull my hair. My bully didn’t beat me up or make the rest of my peers hate me.

My bully lived inside of me.

My bully allowed myself to believe that I wasn’t good enough, that I was a failure. That if I wasn’t perfect, no one would want to be around me.

My bully made me believe that everything I said was wrong. That everything I did was wrong, that the only way to validate my existence was to not be in the way, not be too loud, and not be seen.

I let the demons inside my mind get the best of me. I stopped eating. I slept too much. I didn’t really do much of anything.  It wasn’t until my AP European history teacher sent me to the school counselor’s office that I knew how hard I had fallen and realized that I was at rock bottom.

Throughout high school I clawed myself out of the whole I had dug myself into. Coming into college, I knew I wanted to change my outlook on myself and on life. I knew I wanted to change, but I didn’t know how much I would change.

I started going to Beauty for Ashes every week because some of my peers were going to be facilitating and I wanted to support them. I’ve never had a big issue with my appearance. I had never been one to look in the mirror until I hated myself nor obsess over every flaw I saw.

But I did hate myself.

I hated myself for having to go to therapy. I hated myself for not be kind enough or smart enough or quiet enough or hard working enough or good enough.

On the first session of B4A we had to describe what “beauty” meant to us and it was something that came up throughout the sessions. People described being beautiful as something that wasn’t skin deep, that it was something that was inside of everyone through their personality and beliefs. But how could I find myself beautiful if I hated my insides?

I found that definition very stereotypical and robotic. I didn’t feel that it was sincere. I felt that everyone had been hearing that definition as children and were just repeating it.

Then I started journaling. I started writing about everything and anything. I started peeling apart layers of myself and analyzing some of my darkest corners. And I realized that I am enough.

I can’t say that I won’t hit rock bottom again. I can’t even say that I’ll never call myself a failure or not good enough again.

But I know that I am strong enough.

Strong enough to pick myself up from the sleepless nights. Strong enough to make it through the rough weeks that might turn into rough months. Strong enough to put the pieces of myself back together even when they don’t seem to fit and I’m missing pieces.

And that is my definition of beauty.

– Suzy, 18

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