Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Year I Learned How to Love Myself

2015 was a very important year for me, and I've been working on a special project for a while now. Today, the last day of 2015, is the day I decided to post this video and blog post, and I can't believe it's finally here. I have really poured my heart and soul into this project, and I'm so proud of how it came out. I made a video, and wrote a longer explanation post, so check both out, and let me know what you think! I hope you like it!






            Loving yourself does not come easy. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do, but have never felt like I had the ability to. Because of this, one of my goals for 2015 was to learn how to love myself. I knew it would be hard, but I at least wanted to try.
            I have never felt comfortable in my own skin, and I always compare myself to others about everything: thoughts like “that girl has tanner skin than me”, “look at her tiny waist”, or “my arms will never look like hers,” constantly fill my head. I’ve always been insecure about my body, and myself in general. My body image has also never been good, and I especially struggled with it while growing up.
When I was 12 years old, I was bullied by a boy in my class. He called me fat each and everyday, which was one of my biggest insecurities. I wasn’t fat by any means – I was a dancer who had muscles in order to enable my body to do the sport that I loved. I mean sure, I wasn’t the tallest or thinnest girl in my class, but I come from a short family, so long and model thin legs were never going to be in my future. That was okay, but as a young girl going to school, being told that I was fat by a boy in my class hit home, and I started to truly believe it. He didn’t know that I spent hours each day at my dance studio to improve my dancing, all he saw was that I was different from the other girls. I also read too much according to him, and he thought it was strange that I was so much quieter than everyone else. I was never the loud one in my friend group, and they all had no idea just how much I hated myself and my body.
            I started wearing sweatshirts to school every single day in order to cover up my insecurities. The sweatshirts to me were like a shield against everyone else; they cocooned my body so no one could really see it, and they made it easier for me to not stick out in class. If I could just hide myself from that boy and everyone else, I thought, eventually the voice inside my head constantly putting me down would stop. It didn’t, and if anything it made it worse. With the extra baggage over myself, the boy realized his words had an impact, which to bullies, realizing they are actually hurting someone is like striking gold. His remarks only got meaner, and he put me down every chance he got.
            I never told anyone, even my family who was extremely close and supportive of me, that I was getting bullied, or that I hated myself. I wouldn’t even look in the mirror because I was afraid of what I would see, and I avoided the camera at all costs. My mom and I would pick the cutest outfits out for school, but I would always put a sweatshirt over them and tell her I’d just take it off when the day warmed up. That time never came, of course, and I kept the sweatshirts on the whole day, no matter how warm I was. They were my security blanket, and they hid me from everyone else. I don’t think anyone realized just how insecure I was about my body, or how inadequate I felt. It didn’t help that I had the meanest teacher in our grade, whom was sexist against girls and constantly put us down while praising the boys in the class. This only empowered my bully because he felt so untouchable.
            My struggle with my insecurities continued on for the whole year, but between the summer of sixth and seventh grade, I took off my sweatshirt in front of my friends because it was so warm. They were so shocked at seeing me without my second skin, and it was in that moment that I realized just how crazy it was that I had been wearing them every single day for a year and a half.
I went into middle school and discovered makeup, which I loved to play around with. I probably wore way too much to school, but it was something that I loved and made me feel more confident. I started wearing those cute clothes my mom and I picked out, without covering up with a sweatshirt everyday. I switched from dance to cheer (a decision I now regret), and ended up finding a best friend. I had also met two girls in orchestra, who would later become two of my closest friends in the entire world. My confidence kept getting better and better, and by the time I was a freshman in high school, it had vastly improved from when I was 12.
            Freshman year arrived quickly, and with it came many ups and downs. I quit cheer, a decision I am very happy with, and decided to join the swim team full time (I had swam on and off my whole life). It was something I was good at and something that I absolutely loved. I found wonderful friends who were fun and exactly what I needed at the time. They were accepting and supportive, and I’ll always be grateful to them for letting me into their close-knit group. For the most part, the year was great, and I started liking myself more.
The end of the year was where the down started. My best friend at the time, the girl I met cheerleading, started acting like a completely different person from the one I got so close to. Our friendship ended, not horribly, but not on a good note either, and I spent the summer being pretty lost. I’m grateful to her for being there with me in middle school, and we truly did have great memories from that time. I was able to go through those two years with someone who accepted me, and no matter who the person she is today, the girl I was best friends with was wonderful.
That summer was hard for me because I had just lost my best friend, and I felt so lonely. I started hanging out with two other girls, however, and found the best friendships I’ve ever had. Joycie and Rachel were there for me in a way they probably don’t realize; I could literally be the weirdest person in the world and there was never any hesitation on their part that we were sisters in all but blood. They were my best friends then, now, and will be always, and I can’t thank them enough. Because of their total acceptance of all my weird quirks (trust me, there’s a lot), I was able to start accepting myself as well. I thought if these two girls don’t care about my faults, why should I? With them, my supportive family, my friends from swim, and swim itself, I was in the best place I had ever been.
The rest of high school was both good and bad – as all experiences with high school are – and my confidence varied from time to time. I took hard classes with incredible teachers, and my love for English, Spanish, and learning about different places across the globe solidified. I got my first serious boyfriend at the end of junior year, but it wasn’t the best relationship. He made me feel lesser in every way; less beautiful, less smart, and less of a person in general. I don’t think he called me beautiful once, but I also learned that our relationship was not what healthy ones were like. It was short-lived, luckily, and I actually learned a lot about myself through the mistakes that we both made. Ending the relationship made me stronger and more confident because I learned how to stick up for myself.



The summer before college was spent making memories with my best friends, and we had a blast. I was nervous going into college because I was afraid I would be homesick every day, not be able to do well in my classes, or that I wouldn’t find a solid group of friends. None of these things happened, and though freshman year wasn’t everything that I expected it or wanted it to be, it was everything that I needed, and I wouldn’t change a thing about it. I made awesome friends, and ended up absolutely loving it there (and I still do today!).
 I came out of winter break and into the new year, 2015, worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up this track of being happy with myself. So, that’s why one of my goals was to learn how to truly love myself. I have always loved the idea of self-love, and thought I would achieve that when I looked or felt a certain way. I thought that when or if I got a gorgeous guy’s attention by looking the way I had always wanted, it would all just click for me, and bam I would love myself. Well, ladies and gents that is not how it works. Like any relationship, loving yourself takes time and effort, and you have to love yourself before you can love others.
You would think it’d be easy to get to know yourself because, hello, it’s not like you haven’t met yourself, but it is hard work. Loving every single part is hard, hard work. You have to love the quirks and “faults” as well as your best qualities. Let me just say, though, your quirks and shortcomings can be some of the most beautiful parts of you. They are what set you apart from everyone, so make sure to give those parts some extra lovin’.
Body image is also a huge part of self-love. I have always had horrible body image; I’ll be the first to admit it. I saw my body as a failure because I wasn’t the tallest and thinnest girl out there. Again, comparison comes into play here big time. I compared my body to probably everyone I met, which was not a healthy thing to do at all. No, I don’t have model long legs, or world-class abs like Olympic stars; however, instead of thinking of these things as failures, I choose to love my body as it is. Sure, I work out everyday to stay in shape, and simply because I enjoy working out, but I no longer think “I’ll love my body when…” because that isn’t how anyone should think. I work out and eat right because I love my body. It does amazing things for me, and allows me to pursue the crazy dreams and goals I have. It lets me see the people I love, and go on adventures with. I can see all of the incredible sights this world has to offer because of my body, whether or not I have the “perfect” one, if there is such a thing. Our bodies do some pretty crazy things, and allow us to live this life we’re given. To not love it is a half-life; doing awesome things, but not appreciating the vessel we can do them in. I know I’m not the prettiest girl in the world, but there’s no one else out there like me, and there’s no one else out there like you. You are the only person who can be you, so never compare yourself to others. They are living out a completely different story to yours, so of course they’re going to be different.
My journey to self-love was a long and hard one, as they so often are. It’s hard to love yourself when there are people telling you that you won’t amount to anything, that you aren’t anything special, or that you’re ugly. We’re all special in our own ways, and you get to decide how far you go in life, not other people. Yes, there are going to be hard things for you to go through, but you react in the way that you want to, ultimately. You can let those people knock you down, or you can try your hardest to prove them wrong. I hope one day I can simply tell that boy from grade school that I made my dreams come true, despite how hard he tried to crush them, and that I love my body now. Please, please, please, don’t ever let anyone stop you from doing what you love. Regardless of whether or not your dreams are the “right” ones, or if they’re “too big” for you to reach, at least try. Honestly, what is the hurt in trying? You will truly never know if you can make it, if you don’t ever try. And don’t just give half the effort – fully and truly go for your dreams with all you’ve got. We get to decide what we do with this life, so you might as well do as much as you can.
So, the reason for this long, long rant is for you to realize that loving yourself is one of the best things that could happen to you. It takes a lot of time and effort, but the best relationships do. Start with small things, and work up to the bigger and harder things. And please also realize your body is beautiful – flaws included. They are what make you unique and interesting, and what set you apart from others. Never compare your body to others, or feel like it isn’t good enough. I mean really, just ask yourself, what is it not good enough for?



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Thank you SO much for reading and watching, and I hope you have a wonderful day!

16 comments:

  1. Wow! This post was beautiful. I too have struggled with self-love! Thank you for your insight :)

    Morgan
    http://www.byronbirkinburch.com/

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  2. This is a beautiful post, and something I think many of us can relate to. Learning how to love yourself is so hard, and it's something I am trying (and failing) to do. So thank you for sharing. :)

    Best wishes for the new year.

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    1. Thank you so much! :) I definitely agree - it is super hard to do!

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  3. This was so inspiring to read Kendra. I am so, so happy you've learned how to love yourself. Something I think I still need to work towards. I truly hope 2016 brings so much happiness into your life xx

    Renee | Lose the Road

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    1. Thank you! :) I hope 2016 is amazing for you as well!!

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  4. Just an incredible read, I'm so incredibly happy that you have learnt to love yourself because that is one of the most important things you can do. I wish you all the very best Kendra for the next year x

    Gina | www.lifeandlights.com

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    1. Also just sent you an email x :)

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    2. Thank you so much, Gina! :) Also thank you for the sweet email! I hope you have a wonderful year! :)

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  5. Really inspirational. Thanks for being so open and honest. Not something the average person has the courage to do.

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    1. Thank you! Yeah, I definitely opened up a lot for this post, but I'm so glad I did! I hope you have a wonderful new year!

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  6. sitting in a pool of my tears. <3 <3 <3

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  7. Such a beautiful post and video! Both are so inspiring, they will help a lot of people to at least try to love themselves. I really loved it, thank you so much for sharing! ❤

    milasowhat.blogspot.com

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