“The journey to self-love begins when you accept yourself exactly as you are at this very moment.”-E

Growing up I had extremely long hair reaching past my waist. It was a source of pride, and in a way a reflection of my beauty. I loved it but it was a lot of work to maintain. My mother would spend hours putting my hair in rollers then drying it. It was something that bonded us. It was something that she did when she was younger in the Dominican Republic and now it was something that she passed on to me. No matter how hot or cold it was, we would do this ritual, both seeking silky, straight hair. 

We would start in the morning and sit under the dryer for almost the entire day, taking breaks to eat, read, clean and listen to music. Living in New York meant that there was often rain and humidity. Both of these things spelled disaster, it would ruin my day if my hair would begin to revert to its natural state. All of the hours of hard work would go to waste. I couldn’t stand to see my hair curly, I didn’t feel like myself unless my hair was straight. I spent years damaging my natural hair instead of embracing who I was. I couldn’t accept the beautiful curls. I didn’t wear my hair curly until I was in my mid 20’s. 

Around the age of 8, I became self-conscious of the gaps between my teeth. In pictures, I seldom smiled. The spaces made me feel so insecure and almost worthless. I begged my mom for braces, but at the time she couldn’t afford it. I spent countless hours dreaming of straight teeth. If I had braces, it would somehow change everything. In my quest to change my outward appearance I neglected my deeper issues. The root of my feelings of worthlessness. At the age of 21, I got braces. I didn’t care about the pain, I didn’t care about anything. It brought me instant happiness. It was almost like a high. I was happy for a few years, but eventually, all of my old insecurities came up. I remember being in my teens and 20s waiting for the right moment to love myself, the outlook I had towards myself needed to change.

I was 13 when I had my first encounter with makeup. A family friend mentioned something about how beautiful I was, but that the bags under my eyes were distracting. She suggested that I wear concealer to even out my skin tone. She said this and went about her day, not realizing the impact she had on me. I was crushed. I was aware of the dark circles under my eyes. It was something that I had lived with since I can remember, it was a genetic trait that I couldn’t get away from. The fact that she pointed it out in such a crucial stage in my life set the precedence for more insecurities to come. I began to look for outer things to make me happy, a quick fix only because I was seeking approval. I began to find that through makeup.

In my late teens and early 20’s, my weight fluctuated. There were years where I would almost starve myself to lose weight and even then I didn’t feel skinny enough. I would regulate my weight by telling myself how fat I was. I would look into the mirror and focus my energy on all of my imperfections. This is how I would control my food intake. I began to lose hair and was often tired. My boyfriend at the time was concerned for me. He could see my unhealthy habits but I brushed it off. I was using my weight to distract myself for the pain I was feeling, I was trying to control things and felt like I was on an endless spiral. I wasn’t sure if it would ever get better.

It didn’t get better until I began to release my past and tap into my strength. I needed to go through the insecurities to embrace my beauty. I accept the past and the lessons I’ve learned. I’ve stopped equating my self worth with the approval of others and slowly let go of anger. You must go through the mountains and the depths of your soul in order to grow. Live the life you’ve always wanted, not one that other’s want for you.

I look back and see a girl whos bags weren’t as bad as she thought they were. I see someone deeply uncomfortable with herself. I see the gaps and realize how charming they were and a part of me misses them. My heart breaks when I take in how skinny I was, yet I never felt enough. A part of me longs to be able to go back in time and tell my younger self to wake up and to realize my true beauty, that the source of my insecurities doesn’t define me. These are just distraction mechanisms to separate me from my purpose.

We look for external things to make us feel us happy. All of the answers you’ve been searching for and the foundation of our happiness live within you. Don’t wait until the conditions are right, you lose the weight, you put on the makeup or you land your dream job. Time is against us and we need to be happy with ourselves in the present. Accept yourself right now with all of your flaws, they make you who you are and are your biggest gift. Your power can only be powerful when you own it.  You were born for a purpose.

We all have something unique to share with the world. What’s something that you can do today to accept yourself more? Is there a physical feature that you like about yourself?

Be fearless and stand strong. Love E xoxoxox