Ten years ago I was in middle school, going through my awkward adolescent phase. I wasn’t particularly interested in school, but I wasn’t a bad student. I just kind of showed up, went through the motions, and went home. What I started feeling around that time was like nothing I ever felt before. After years of being told by other kids that I was ugly and stupid, I started to believe it. In eighth grade, I had a voice inside my head that was constantly telling me I wasn’t good enough, causing an aching in my chest and stomach, regular breakdowns, and a sense of unworthiness. I had started to believe that I was unworthy of success, of love, of anything good. I started cutting as punishment just for being alive. I felt like such a burden to anyone that had to be around me.
For years, I was terrified of talking to people. I refused to open up out of fear of rejection and shame. I had a core belief that I’m not good enough to be around other people, that no one wants to connect with me, and that I’m undeserving of love. As a result, I took to some unhealthy habits and unhealthy relationships. My perspective of what I truly needed was skewed. I was lost in my own head.
Fast forward to 2019 – I’m in good physical shape and have developed several healthy habits. I’m living with an amazing partner who truly respects me and makes me feel wanted, something I never thought would happen. I’m working in my field for a highly respected company. I have a few close friends who really care about me. I’ve been off medication for over a year and haven’t felt like I need to get back on it. I still struggle, but through therapy, I’m learning new tools to help me control my thoughts and acknowledge them for what they are: just thoughts. Every day I’m working on my communication skills. And I’m slowly realizing that people really aren’t that scary.
Are things perfect? No. But I’m learning to just let things be and acknowledge the fact that I’m in control of my life, not my anxiety. For the first time in my life, I’m learning to love myself.
For anyone struggling right now, know that it does get better. You will grow and change so much as a person throughout your life. Know that you have value.
What was your experience like in middle school? How have your feelings towards yourself changed with time? Share your experiences below!