how I gained self-esteem | part 2

[Part one here.]

The pre-teen/early teen stage. Possibly the worst period of time in anybody's life regardless of external factors. It's an age when bodies are changing, hormones are a new thing, and making friends is life or death.

I had the friend part down alright. I wasn't exceptionally outgoing, but I was lucky to always find people who were welcoming and accepting. But I was an awkward girl. I was still smaller than most of my classmates. I had long arms and legs, but I was short. I wasn't developing at the same rate as most of the girls my age. I wore t-shirts and boy's shorts, and jeans that didn't fit well. I had a passion for books and horses. Boys were actually kind of cute. I started junior high and found some true friends. I was finally at the same school as my best friend, Aubree, and we loved having girls nights nearly every weekend.

And I wore a body brace. It was uncomfortable, it was bulky, and I hated it.

I hated that I couldn't just bend over to pick something up; I was ever-aware that it gave my rear a perfect 90 degree angle when I did. I hated that I couldn't wear shirts that actually fit without being constantly self-conscious about the large Velcro straps that went across the front to keep it on. I hated that I could hear the hinges on those straps creaking when I breathed, after my body had adjusted since I put it on in the morning. I hated the big duffle bag that I carried it in after school, after I had taken it off before PE. I hated it all. I knew that it was a necessary evil, but I viewed it mostly as an evil nonetheless.

I remember countless times, crying to Mom and asking, "Why me?? Why would God make me go through this?" But those times got fewer and fewer as I grew. During this time, I learned that a small, skinny girl can feel just as insecure about her body as somebody larger than her. I'll be honest, I had this weird thing about boobs for a while, because I sure as heck didn't have any. Not only did I have crooked shoulders and hips, but I was still "waiting for normal female body parts to arrive."

Even with these deep insecurities, I learned that my deep desire to be accepted for who I was, not how I looked, was fulfilled. I became close to some of the most amazing girls in the world. Girls who didn't care how I looked, and who didn't pressure me to fit a specific mold. They encouraged me to be myself, and we were probably some of the craziest, goofiest, and happiest 13, then 14, 15, 16,17-year-olds you ever met. We did, thankfully, grow out of the awkward junior high stage, but we never wore the "cool-kid" badge. We did things our own way, and we were completely happy.

During this time in my life, I learned that I loved music and singing (even if I wasn't the best at it) and I joined choir. I loved to dance, and I continued with that same small ballet company. I loved to create, and I had a sketchbook full of random pencil drawings, some that I bestowed as gifts to my beloved friends. My projects for English class always involved some sort of scrap-book-y or crafty element. I learned that I loved t-shirts, and I wore plenty of them, even venturing into the little boy's section at Target for super-hero ones. When I see pictures of myself wearing said fashion atrocities, I don't even regret it in the least....because I was happy being myself. My friends and I had a love for making films as class projects, and we spent hours goofing off and creating masterpieces, one involving barbies (in 9th grade), and another involving wigs and mermaid costumes (as juniors).

My friends and I carried our friendship on to high school, each of us a little more confident, a little more secure. We liked boys, we liked to be friends with boys, we liked going on dates with boys. We liked making fun of boys. None of us had boyfriends, but we were content with that.

During this time in my life, I learned what it meant to be a Daughter of God. I was taught that I had great worth as an individual, and that I was precious in God's eyes. I attended seminary and the youth program for teenage girls at my church. I thirsted to know that I had individual worth. I thirsted after spiritual knowledge, to know who I really was and where I came from and what my purpose was in life. I think most teenagers go through that period of figuring out who they are...and I did in the best of ways. Through my own study, the help and care of countless adults, and by the grace of God, I came to a knowledge of these things. I knew that I was a Daughter of a loving and caring Heavenly Father. I knew that I came from His presence, to learn and grow on this earth and eventually return to live with Him. I knew that I wanted to go to the temple, and that I wanted to eventually raise a family. I knew who I was and I knew where I was going. I didn't have all the answers, but I had enough.

Later on in high school, I faced some pretty difficult challenges (you know, for a teenager). When I had stopped growing, I stopped wearing my brace. I had learned to move past much of that awkwardness, and although I wasn't always thrilled with my body and I still had low moments, I had gained self-esteem and a sense of self-worth. The knowledge that I gained through my experiences, and the trials that I went through, only prepared me for what I would face in college and young-adulthood.

[to be continued]

8 comments :

  1. you are soooooo right. the pre-teen years are MOST awkward.. mine were HORRIBLE! :P cant wait for Part 2!!!!

    x.

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  2. I love hearing stories like this!
    Those years can be tough... glad you survived them. ;)

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  3. Thanks for sharing this very personal, but inspiring story! :)

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  4. I love love love this! I have scoliosis, too, but mine is definitely not as severe! But heaven knows I had some major insecurities...and some great friends! Thank goodness high school doesn't determine the rest of our lives :)

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  5. your writing is beautiful. don't ever stop telling your stories with such graceful charm <3

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  6. i love this. high school and jr high were rough -- i feel like i finally grew into liking myself sometime toward the end of college, and then mostly in the post-college career years. these past couple years have been good to me and i wouldn't go back to being 13 or 17 for anything! though i guess it all adds up to the good ending, so i can't regret those years too much.

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  7. Kylie going to school with you made me see the wonderful person that you are. I have NEVER told any one this (cause I didn't want to name my baby after anyone from my family cause than we would be repeating names) but I named my baby girl after you because the sweet girl you were/are. And in nameing her kylie i hope she would be the sweet girl ,someone else someday, will feel the love of christ comming from her like you did for me.

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Thanks for reading! I love reading your thoughts, too :)