I learned to hate myself in childhood.
I learned that I was the girl who was spit on in the hallways of the high school. I learned that others could write nasty things about me and paste them on my locker or in my schoolbooks or on the wall. I learned to be afraid to come home at night because my house would be vandalized. I learned in fifth grade what it was like when no one talks to you for many months and you don't know why. I learned that there are some things we never talk about even though they should be talked about. I learned that most people wouldn't fight for me or stick up for me.
I learned how to live in my own head and to chant the mantra "I don't care," over and over again.
I learned how to live in a world of pain and hurt and how to fight.
I learned to place my worth on how others treated me.
There might be a reason I write about learning from the past and not letting it define you. Sometimes I think it's due to the codependency in which I've lived for so many years. Even as an adult, I've lived in a way that looks for worth on externals -- it's the do more, be more philosophy of hoping to please other people with the hopes that they will value you.
You see, I learned in those young years that I wasn't valued.
At least that's how it wrongly translated and morphed and shifted into adulthood.
I began to think my value was based on being the best all the time. I stopped resting or doing things that were fun. I became afraid to speak my mind in fear that others would be mad at me.
At a deep level I feared -- and still fear at times -- being alone.
And that's what makes me write today.
That's what makes me a passionate voice for the words you are enough and I am enough. It's what makes me tear up when I read about others who feel alone and that they feel as if they don't measure up. I've had to fight to not let the demons, the patterns of childhood and worth, taint who I am today. It's not as easy as one would think.
Logically, I know I should let go. Convince my heart of it sometimes as well. Sometimes, I'll slip back into that mindset -- the mindset of needing to overachieve to feel valued -- and I'll run myself ragged. I'll let my emotions taint the present.
But I've discovered something that I want to share with you. Maybe in living a life where I've felt inconsequential because I derived worth and value from the wrong places for so many years has finally taught me wisdom 39 1/3 years later.
Your worth is never dependent on how others treat you.
Your worth is not dependent on everything that you do every day.
You are valued because you are you.
It's a hard truth to realize sometimes. It's hard to let go of those labels that stick tighter than Gorilla Glue to our hearts. It's hard to remember it when it feels like the world is against you. It's hard to define yourself not based on the things you do. It's hard to speak up and fight and to love. It's hard to appreciate yourself.
So I am here to remind you.
You are awesome, amazing, beautiful, funny, lovable, valued and enough even if for most of your life you felt otherwise.
You are enough.
Today I want you to have a moment where you simply love you for you. For all your imperfections and mistakes and all of that. Let go of those mistakes.
The past is in the past.
You have now. Today. This moment.
Fill your life with things that are good. Have friends that love you for you and stick with you even when you make mistakes. You will stumble, fall, trip and have times where you want to quit. You will have people not like you or respect you. Don't let all of those moments, those things, the past, or others define your worth or value.
You are absolutely worth it. You are worth it. You are worthy of love, joy, happiness and wonderful. You don't have to be perfect. You don't have to have a Hallmark past to have an amazing future. You don't have to have a life of roses and rainbows and sunshine to be valued and loved. You don't have to have a bank account bursting with extras. You don't have to do all the things that you think people need to do. You don't have to live in fear of what others think of you or how they treat you.
All that childhood stuff? I've learned to let it go. I was a kid. I didn't know the truths about life that I know now. What I do know is how important it is to love yourself for you and to not allow the past to taint today. I have learned how to fight for me and my family. I have learned to give myself grace for the times when I slip into old patterns of thought. I have learned to look at myself and to accept the journey that I am on.
So from me to you, the words that I want you to remember are these:
You are wonderful and amazing because you are you.
Don't let others define your value.
You are valued because you are you.
And in it all you are enough.
One other thing -- bullying in childhood is a serious thing. A child should never be forced to tough it out, look the other way, or deal with it. Children in situations like that need love, support, and a solution. They need an advocate.