I saw a music video this morning that moved me, mostly because as a teenager, I could completely relate. I am so grateful to not be a girl growing up in this day and age of social media, of everybody scrutinizing every little physical thing about you, of cyber bullying. How in the world do you keep your teenage daughter safe and confident today when the media sets impossible standards for her?
When I was a teenager, I had some pretty serious self-esteem issues. I don’t think anybody really knew because I hid them very well, but I grappled. I changed schools three times, the last time in my senior year, so I didn’t have many close friends. I was not popular. I was not unpopular. I was kind of…nobody. Just there. I did end up making friends, friends I still have today, so don’t feel bad for me. I did just fine. But when I see or hear something that reminds me of that time in my life, I’m touched, I’m a little melancholy (remember that scene in The Breakfast Club when Anthony Michael Hall asks Molly Ringwald if they’ll still be friends on Monday and she says no? Crushes me. Every time.). That being said, I realize that compared to today’s girls, I had it easy.
Loving yourself is hard. At least it was for me. It took me until I was well into my thirties to feel good about myself, and even then, my attitude would shift. It still does. I think once you have self-esteem issues, you always have them. You always fight them. Today, at 46, I have a healthier view of myself than I ever have and I like me. A lot. I’m a pretty cool woman. But it took a long time and it was a hard road. And every so often, that little voice starts to whisper in my head. You’ve put on weight. You’ll never be attractive. You have no talent. Why are you trying so hard? You’re not good enough. You never will be. Nobody likes you. And I’m fifteen again, sitting quietly invisible in the back of the classroom, taking notes like a good girl, watching the popular girls sitting a few desks ahead of me and wishing with all my might I could be a part of their group. It was silly. It wasn’t important. I know that now. But fifteen-year-old me didn’t know that. If I could go back and talk to her, I’d tell her not to worry so much, to relax and breathe, to stop trying so hard, that everything’s going to be just fine, and that she’s going to be all right. And to smile.
Here’s the link to the video that got me thinking this morning. It’s by Colbie Caillat.