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How I Learned to Love Myself

A Beautifully Treacherous Journey

I learned I loved taking pictures, so I bought a camera.

It wasn’t long ago that I would get invited out with my friends, and I felt that I had nothing to wear that made me... “beautiful.” I would cancel my plans, and instead cry staring into the mirror absolutely disgusted with everything I was. Have you ever been to a Hollywood party? Maybe there’s a better suited question. Have you ever watched an episode of The Hills? Imagine walking into the room of a Teen Vogue summer party feeling like you have UGLY COW written across your forehead, and everyone reads it as they pass you. That was me. That was how I felt. All. The. Time.

I remember being in High School and people telling me, “Wow, you’re so confident. It’s so cool!” I’d look behind me to see if there was someone else in the room they were talking to. Having people say things like that told me that I had constructed the perfect mask. I pretended like I didn’t care about anything, and it was all “no big deal” to me. The truth is, I did care. Often times I’d come home from school and cry in my pillow.

I needed that mask, because I couldn’t bear the thought of that girl from middle school calling me out on the softball field again. “Barbara, have you ever even kissed a boy?” No, I hadn’t. Looking in hindsight, I want to tell 13-year-old Barbara that boys don’t matter, and your happiness is all that is important... and that is where I connected the dots.

Over the past few years, I’ve done a lot of soul searching, mostly without even knowing I was. I took little trips to see my favorite bands by myself. I’d book a hotel room, go out to dinner, and check out the new city by myself. I explored botanical gardens, the city transit system, and took a 14-hour train ride from San Fransisco to LA by myself. I gave myself my undivided attention as much as I could, and I started seeing myself in a different light.

I slowly but surely started to realize how incredibly kind and generous I am. I learned that I was in love with meeting new people, and discovering new places. I finally saw how incredible it was that I am as independent as I am, and how free I feel in this world. Instead of feeling like a 25-year-old single, no-kid, renting-a-bedroom-while-people-my-age-buy-houses loser, I began to appreciate my life happening the way it did.

I came to realize that all of the things I would constantly beat myself up over my entire life were actual vital parts of who I am. That makes each and every single thing about myself so valuable, and now I know to treat it all delicately. I no longer stand in front of the mirror and pick myself apart. I no longer wish that I could be someone else, or have someone else’s life, or body. I am grateful that every piece of me is the way that it is. I’m loud, friendly, thoughtful, sometimes moody, always clumsy, and I am perfectly imperfect.

The journey to self-love is long and treacherous, but trust me when I say you will find it. You will find a love so pure that you will see yourself, and see life from a new perspective. You will live each day differently moving forward. All you need to do is spend time learning about who you are and the things you love. Always remember that at the end of the day, the only person that needs to like you, is you. You don’t owe anyone any apology for being WHO YOU ARE!

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How I Learned to Love Myself
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