It seems like only yesterday I was entering my first year of high school, full of teenage angst and insecurities. My self-esteem was at an all time low; no matter how much I straightened my hair, counted my calories, and strived for A’s I was never truly comfortable in my own skin. Looking back at things, it wasn’t my fault I was so obsessed with what people thought about me. If you grew up with my parents, you’d know just how important it was to be perceived as smart and attractive. In fact, it was the only way to earn their respect sometimes. But that’s another story.
I felt so much pressure at home and from society to be a certain way, that it took a toll on my mental health. I had anxiety through the roof and I skipped out on so many school functions because my self-esteem was practically nonexistent. I struggled with an eating disorder for many years (which I kept a secret from everyone). My teenage years were some of the worst times of my life and I’m eternally grateful those days have passed. Adulthood has been so much better to me, despite the new set of challenges that go along with it.
People used to tell me that I’d be more confident with time, but I never truly understood that statement until now. With age came wisdom and a whole new outlook on life. For starters, I stopped caring so darn much about my looks. Yes, I still take pride in being somewhat stylish and feminine, but back in high school I would have never dared to show my bare face or even my legs! I remember feeling so insecure about how pale my legs were that it was literally a struggle convincing myself to wear shorts or dresses. These days, my fair skin is something I’m no longer ashamed of because it is a reflection of my Asian heritage. And let’s be honest, Asians are awesome!
The Spanish bloodline that runs through me also gave way to some curly-haired cuties in the family–myself included. But I didn’t always think curly hair was so cute. In fact, I used to hate my hair and vowed to always straighten it out because I thought my curls were a frizzy mess! But with age also comes experience and I slowly learned how to properly care for my wavy tresses to a point where strangers and hair stylists compliment them. I still wear my hair straight from time to time, but going natural was never something I dreamed was possible for me. But look at me now!
I overcame my disordered eating habits, reached a healthier weight, and have slowly been learning to love my curvier frame. I’m not perfect by any means, but it’s a step towards the right direction and I’m thankful to now have a better relationship with food. I feel like an anchor has been lifted from my chest and I can finally breathe again.
Anyone that follows me on social media knows I’m no stranger to the #ShamelessSelfie but you know what? It took me a long time to get to a point where I actually feel love for myself, so I think I’ve earned the right to flaunt what my mama gave me. For years I’ve had people tell me that I needed to be more confident in myself, and now that I’m here, I’ll be damned if anyone has a problem it.
In addition to accepting the physical features I was born with, I also developed a sense of appreciation for some of the personality traits I once deemed unworthy of respect. I went through a phase where I tried to be super outdoorsy, tanned, and all about the beach life. I wanted to be like everyone else in Hawaii and fit in with the culture but deep down inside, that was never me. In fact, I hate going to the beach. I’ve always been more drawn to the comfort of coffee shops, bookstores, shops, museums, and theatres. Basically, I love the indoor life. I used to look at that with such negativity but only because I hadn’t yet accepted that there was nothing wrong with it. Now that I’ve found a group of friends who enjoy the same things I do, I’ve learned to accept my preferences and that of those around me. After all, it takes all kinds of people to make the world go ’round.
How boring would it be if we were all exactly the same? We’d never learn a thing from one another or try new experiences because we’d never be exposed to anything different! We’d all want the same jobs, the same hobbies, and we’d be surrounded by people who never challenge our way of thinking. As comforting as that may be, you’ll never grow as a person if you don’t make an effort to be around those who are different and celebrate their uniqueness.
It took me a while to get here, but I’m proud to have finally reached a point where I’m much happier with who I am. Life is way too short to be concerned about how other people see me, so from here on out, I’m going to make more of an effort to live authentically and unapologetically. Those who matter won’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter anyway. 😉
“There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the true essence of beauty.”
― Steve Maraboli,
“I find the best way to love someone is not to change them, but instead, help them reveal the greatest version of themselves.”
― Steve Maraboli,