Words by Marielle Balmores
Photos from Giphy, Weheartit and Pinterest
Gaining self-love is a long journey one embarks on in order to improve their outlook on life and themselves. Especially having these societal standards that prey on those who don’t satisfy it, it instigates struggle and rejection of one’s own being and livelihood. A flaw in humankind is forgetting that we are flawed, where mistakes will always be made no matter what.
For me, I viewed society to be represented by some people backed up with a sense of popularity among their peers. With the fleeting sense of feeling on top of everyone, they take advantage of it but usually not for the better. They become judgmental and mean to those whose interests don’t align with their own. Although judging people is unavoidable, judging them negatively is a choice. How ironic for a flawed person to make fun of another flawed person just because the former fulfills the standards that the latter can’t. So what if you reach society’s standards? If your attitude is awful, then everything else about you is awful too. Physical looks change over time, but your attitude can be forever if you don’t reevaluate.
Quite hypocritical of me to say it, but as I realized this truth, I eventually stopped as I grew older.
I was somehow an easy target for others back when I was younger. I had glasses, sometimes imperfect aligned bangs, and really bad permed hair almost like Ugly Betty. I remembered how anything I said or did is constantly judged. Due to that, I was very easily misunderstood by others, and I received bad judgments that were passed on to other people like a parasite. Judgments were followed by teasing, backstabbing, and even indirect cyber-bullying where the context is obvious that it was about me.
With those actions, the young me grew paranoid and tried hard to prove them wrong in response in any way possible. But doing that also didn’t improve my image. This then made it hard for me to develop a social circle of friends. But when I did meet people, I always put my best foot forward and present myself with every ounce of kindness I had just so I could prove to even just a few people that I’m not what others make of me. At this point, I just had all this self-hatred that would never fade away just like the mean words from others. How many times did I break down at home and drown myself in academics to distract myself? I just felt like everything went against me and that life had favorite people whom it spoiled abundantly. I grew bitter and sad.
But thankfully, I was honing my talents in the performing arts that I started doing since I was a child. In fact, I needed it more than ever because it was what kept me sane and motivated to forget even just a bit of the pain. It saved me and gave me a platform to express myself to everyone who used to shut me down. I guess I didn’t have to prove anything to anyone with my words, just let my talents do the talking.
Additionally, I was also encouraged to drop my glasses so that it wouldn’t be a hindrance. Exchanging it with contact lenses was a challenge at first to adjust, but I got the hang of it. With the permed hair that eventually became dry, I decided to cut it off and learned to appreciate my naturally straight hair. Even having this glo-up, I still had mean people talking which still bothered me but because I made friends through my talents, it didn’t sting as much as it used to. To those friends, you’re the best and I’m thankful.
As enjoyable things got, it eventually reached its end when I graduated. Everything else after got tougher again for my self-esteem in college, like I was back to square one. You see, I was one of the very few within my friends who went to a farther school while most of them stayed near to each other. I wouldn’t say I was heavily dependent on them, but just not having a small sense of home with me felt intimidating when I moved. Even if I had friends in neighboring schools, it was still difficult to find the time.
Not only did I deal with that, but I also had batchmates who would be studying there too. Some who used to make fun of me. It’s like a nightmare was reborn. As much as I tried to shrug it off, it wouldn’t, making it hard to make friends in college too because of my constant attitude changes. I felt somewhat anxious and outcasted again, scared that they might go around campus to speak of me badly again and spread it around to other students.
As that difficult period lingered on for a while, I luckily found a way to express myself when things didn’t turn out well. It was through joining organizations. It made me improve a skill: socialization. Quickly, my social skills improved vastly, which was followed by my public speaking skills because it was like socializing but on a bigger scale.
Because of this constant character development, it felt like I was regaining real happiness then slowly love within myself. It was like I was slowly making the high school me proud of college me.
As I let the adrenaline rush through my body from all this character growth, I continued to pursue my other passions and see where it could lead me to. Thus, it brings you here, reader. I decided to take on writing outside of my journal and laptop only for my reference (and a bit of Tumblr) and to the online public. My imagination has always been vast, from writing fairytales and fiction to my personal thoughts that turned into ideas.
When I chose to pursue it, I believe that it changed me the most. Not to sound cheesy or whatever, but I felt like I found my purpose. Being able to voice out my thoughts in hopes that it can help someone who might be struggling. When I became the person I needed back in the day. Or simply talking about things I’m passionate about to spark excitement for those who share the same interests. Entertaining through well-thought-out topics and getting the audience to evoke any sort of emotions in order to spark a discussion are some of the things that motivate me to work harder.
It’s almost been a decade since I started high school, where things went downhill. I’m now reaching that finish line for university this mid-2020, and I figured it was time to reflect especially that it meant the start of a new decade. A new decade of possibilities, opportunities, and struggles. At the beginning of the 2010s, I struggled with my existence and purpose, insecure towards the mean words. Now at the beginning of the 2020s, I conquered by not giving an ounce of care for them and merely focused on myself and the good things around me only. With that, it made me live a more peaceful life.
Teenage me thought it was hopeless, but young adult me would say to keep persevering.
Teenage me, thank you for fighting through. Young adult me, you’re better than you ever were, so let’s keep going. You will be alright.
If you’re on this same journey as me, how is it going for you? Share your stories with us.