This is a post that's been fermenting in my brain for a while, now. And it's partially inspired by a handful of teen book bloggers whom I follow on Twitter and Tumblr, and partially because I wish I'd been able to really hear and internalize this truth when I was younger.
I keep seeing posts that say things like "I wish I was someone's idea of perfect" and "I don't think I matter" and "I've never once felt beautiful." And those things hurt my heart. Because I remember what it felt like to ache for that. I remember how terrible it is to be convinced you could disappear, and no one would ever know the difference. I know what it is to carry a secret weight of failure and shame because you're convinced you don't measure up.
I really don't know if I can put the right string of words together to convince you that you're clinging to lies as if they're your lodestone of truth. You might let it slide in one ear and out the other because you're so sure you KNOW you're less than everyone else around you. You might think "Well, that's true for others, but that will never be true for me."
You might walk away from this unchanged, but I have to say it anyway. The things I wish I'd truly understood when I was younger.
1. Most of your peers feel the same way. Some are courageous enough to admit it. Some believe they have to hide it or it will destroy them. But when you peel back the layers, most are terrified they don't measure up.
2. Taking your worth from what you THINK others think of you is a sure way to never really see how valuable you truly are. Don't let outside sources hand you your price tag. When you truly understand and accept yourself, you'll find you aren't even willing to accept a price tag at all.
3. You are valuable. You have a unique combination of thoughts, talents, emotions, and gifts that no one else has, and therein lies both your beauty and your strength.
4. You might not meet the person who will think you are their idea of "perfection" now, but the world is so much bigger, so much wider than what you have while you're in school. And if you've found your way to accept and love yourself for who you are, when you meet that person, you'll be ready for the kind of relationship you dream of.
5. If someone in your life consistently makes you feel insecure, depressed, or upset, walk away. There are toxic people out there who will feed on you to meet their own needs, and you don't have to accept that. You can step back emotionally, and physically when possible. You have the right to have your own set of boundaries, your own inner places that you hold sacred, and you have the right to remove toxic people from your life.
6. If something in your life makes you feel less, remove that too. Don't look at the air-brushed, starved images of "perfect" girls in magazines and on tv if it makes you want to starve yourself, or cut yourself, or mentally scream at yourself every time you look in the mirror because you hate what you see. Those pictures? They're a lie. A terrible, cancerous lie that will eat at you until you look it in the eye and call it what it is.
7. It gets better. You begin to see the value in your own beauty, your own way of looking at the world, and you get less and less inclined to accept those who refuse to allow you that right. You surround yourself with others who see your worth and beauty as you see it, and before you know it, you can breathe. You can dream. You can blossom because all you ever needed was to stop calling lies your truth.
I don't know if this post will resonate with my teen readers, but it is what I wish I'd really understood years ago. And it hurts me to see girls I know are smart, talented, beautiful, compassionate, ambitious, funny, lovely, and infinitely precious feel like somehow they never measure up. If the people and things around you make you feel like you never measure up, the best thing you can do is throw out their measuring stick.
I leave you with a gorgeous song that sums up the journey from believing lies to embracing truth.