I remember one day in high school when I was reduced to a number. I was told I was a guy's "20." With my extreme lack of knowledge and understanding towards that term, I was elated to be his "20!" For all of you who have no clue what I am talking about, it is the 80/20 rule that was discussed in Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married? In marriage, you only get about 80 percent of what you need from your spouse, and you do not want to throw it all away on someone who comes along only offering 20 percent (i.e. sex and a little extra attention). So, I took that I was basically a "hot lay" as a compliment. I also took a ton of other negative, unacceptable advances as compliments. I was clueless as to what my worth was, all I knew was. I wanted to be popular and I wanted it bad but not bad enough to sleep around to get it. Undoubtedly, I was talked about due to my excessive flirty behavior by most of the guys at school. One thing I prided myself on was the fact that none of them could say I slept with them (at least at that time). It was the only vice I had when they wanted to call me names, I could always throw out my "at least I'm still a virgin card." Of course, I could jazz that card up in a few different ways and keep them from calling me the one name that brings so much shame...a "hoe (whore)!" Funny how you reflect on these things and it makes you realize while you were trying to be so cool, you really ended up being so lame (urban term). I was so stuck on being noticed, that I slacked away from my school work. Although I graduated third in my class, I could have been tied for the number 1 spot, and gotten more scholarships to pay for college. I could have done things differently in high school, but my desperate attempts at popularity had me consumed. I went to college for a year. I made a complete mess out of it; I got kicked out and was upset because they kicked me out (didn't they know who I was???). Internally, during my high school and college years, I battled low self-esteem. It wasn't until a year ago, I truly saw how beautiful I was, and that I was a true catch, someone definitely worth marrying. And that revelation makes everything a bit sweeter, now. Due to age and a great appreciation of the beauty I have (inside and out), I am able to walk around with confidence. I am able to not be so bothered by what people have to say. Perception has everything to do with confidence. When you consider what others may say, you begin to doubt yourself (definitely a tool of fear). For example, I use to be ashamed to show my feet, I was scared somebody may talk about how stubby my toes are, or call them ugly. Now, I wear them out, sometimes they are just as ashy as they want to be (not often but it's my choice). I am so unbothered about other people's opinions of me now; if I do not want to shave my legs, I don't have to, and I am still beautiful! As you get older, you realize how you see things has a lot to do with what you do in life. I am unapologetic for who I am, what I look like, and what I am currently doing in life. I just live the best way I desire too! And hope to inspire my daughter to be her true, authentic self.