What we experience in life makes us exactly who we are. However, we react differently to similar experiences. Some of us rise from the ashes in a way that haunts us while others are perfectly capable of turning a poor situation into motivation. The hardest part of it all, no matter how we react to certain instances in our lives, is letting it go.
Can you think back to a time in your life when someone hurt you? When someone embarrassed you? Maybe when you embarrassed yourself or let someone down? Whatever the case, it’s hard to grow from lessons that we never necessarily learned. If you learned from it, you’ll know. You’ll look back on that time in your life and be overjoyed that you are no longer subject to that situation. If you didn’t learn from it, chances are you will look back and feel a sense of anger or shame. The good thing is, both are completely normal.
For me, letting go of my past was difficult because there was a long period of time that I surrounded myself with so much negativity without even realizing it. I didn’t know how much garbage was in my life, thus, had no idea my life needed to be purged.
One day it finally hit me. Actually, I hit it, whatever it was, like a speeding car into a brick wall. Maybe one day I will share the story of how I prevailed from the waste bin that use to be my life, but for now, I am not comfortable making it public to the world. Just know that it took a lot of years of hating myself and letting someone degrade me for me to finally realize that I was better off letting go and starting over.
Self love doesn’t come easy to begin with. Add a toxic person to that equation and you’ve got yourself a dilemma. What you need to know is that you’re not the only one who has ever felt like letting go of such a harsh past is out of reach. Chances are you felt as though you didn’t deserve a better future. But you do. Struggling to love yourself after someone else has essentially stripped you of all self confidence is a process. As much as people say “you gotta love yourself”, it’s hard to start from scratch. Today I love myself more than I ever have, but it didn’t just happen over night.
After I ditched the toxic waste bin, I had to figure out where to go, what to do.
The first step to loving myself came in the form of a decision to go back to school and make completely new friends. I wanted people in my life that had no idea where I came from or what my story was. When I met my people up at Oklahoma State, I was over the moon. Best of all, they weren’t the catty type of girls who will only speak to you if you pledge to a sorority, they were the type of girls who would sit up til 3am watching Netflix and drinking beer. My kind of gals.
The second step revolved around setting small goals for myself. Things to concentrate on that I could be proud of upon accomplishing. This mostly consisted of academic achievements and time spent at the gym. I just wanted to better myself, all-around. I also started eating better which helped me reach my body image goals faster. You’d be surprised at how much a healthy diet and activity can change your outlook.
The third step came unexpectedly, but I took it in with gratitude. When Clint came into my life I didn’t have a high opinion of him at first, because I didn’t trust him, because I didn’t know him. He wasn’t the only one, though. I had a hard time trusting guys, in general, for a long time. I hate to say it, but I was in that mentality that “all guys are the same at this age”. It worked out for me, though. I had so much more time to worry about myself and my goals rather than getting all bent out of shape over some Bo. But Clint was the exception to my own rule. He treated me better than any man I had ever met, besides my own father. I just kind of went with the flow of things, trying not to get too attached at times and then the next thing I know I am head over heels in love with him.
He didn’t tell me it was okay to trust him, he showed me.
He took me on dates. He let me come over whenever I wanted and he came over to spend time with me. He never got bored of my company. He liked my friends. He took care of me when I was sick. He never put pressure on me to be someone I had no desire to be. He complimented me. He made me feel loved.
I didn’t base my self-love solely on the fact that Clint came into my life. He was just kind of an added bonus. I already loved myself when I met him, which is why he was attracted to me. I had already taken control of my confidence and relearned what my own self worth was valued at. He saw my confidence instead of the negativity I use to carry around like a sack over my shoulder.
I see a lot of people who seem so stuck in the same routine they’ve been performing for years on end, they are complacent. At one point in time, complacency was my only option. I didn’t think I would go very far because I didn’t believe that I deserved to. Once I shook that mentality, so many doors opened for me.
My advice for anyone reading this is to bag up the baggage, put it on a one-way flight to nowhere, and get on with your life. Do what you want to do, go where you want to go, be with whoever the heck you want to be with, live where you want to live. Learning to love yourself starts with the decision to try.