Ashley is a teenager who'd like to share her experiences with others. She likes writing, cooking, and fitness.
Society Isn't Inclusive
At seven years old, I'm walking in school, and every way I turn leads to a plethora of sarcastic girls, loud boys, all grouped together. Previously, I had tried fitting in with these kids, but something just didn't click for me. They were similar in age to me, yet so, so different in terms of their personalities and appearance.
At ten years old, my class formed a line to the lunch room. As I got there, I unpacked my lunch.
"Ew! What is that?" A boy yelled at me, pinching his nose and pointing at my congee.
"It's porridge," I replied, smiling at him.
"It smells gross."
That day as my mom picked me up, I asked her for money to buy lunch.
Shifting My Focus
When I was young, about seven or so, my parents enrolled me in the elementary school that was near my home. It couldn't get better than that. Recounting the event that happened with my lunch, I was absolutely determined to fit in. The last thing I wanted to do was stand out in an environment like this.
However, it only got worse from there. At eight, I gave up on trying to find new friends.
"Hi, I'm Ashley."
They went silent, looking at each other and giggling.
Being one of the only Asian Americans there, and constantly surrounded by light- skinned kids, it took only so long before I stopped trying to be myself. At eight, I desperately prayed to be a pretty blond girl, tall and lean, with blonde hair and blue eyes. Sometimes, I would miraculously forget that I was Chinese and genuinely believed I was a pretty blonde.
At thirteen, I had accepted my race. I accepted that I was not as light- skinned as the other girls in my grade. Instead, I focused on the flaws I believed I could fix of myself. Countless hours spent scrolling on the internet- days, years of my life wasted comparing myself to the girls that everyone loved. Perfect girls, without blemishes, with soft lips, smooth skin, and shiny hair.
Perfect girls with perfect lives. Spending days with friends, smelling nice, oceans, beaches, mountains, boyfriends. I was so invested in how they lived, how put together they were.
The more I saw these perfect people, the more unhappy I became. I beat myself up because I was not like them. The more I looked at myself in the mirror, the more nauseous I felt.
At fourteen, I learned to hate my body. I spent seconds, which turned into minutes, then hours picking at myself, punishing myself because I was not the pretty blonde girl I remember seeing in that store. I was not the slim, tall girl rocking those skinny jeans, nor was I enough.
My room was cluttered, piles of clothes everywhere. I desperately tried to find clothes I looked good in, but there were none.
How I learned Self- Neutrality
One lockdown and a whole year later taught me how precious life was. I realized, I did not have to love myself- instead, I could work on self neutrality~
At first, I felt disgusting. Guilty, even. Every single time I tried to love myself, or at least act in a compassionate way, I couldn't bring myself to. I dragged my resilient body to and from the mirror, whispering affirmations in place of criticism. Forcibly smiling at myself instead of crying. Each day seemed wrong, until it seemed almost right.
I do have to credit my parents, who played a big role in helping my rediscover myself for who I was. They kept me on track, reminding me to recite positive affirmations, assuring me that a B was fine in school, and it was great that I started to branch out again.
When it seemed impossible to love myself, my mentality was unhealthy, shattered and dropped after years of low self- esteem and unrealistic comparison. I learned, slowly, that it was okay to think I looked cute in a dress. Amazing that I could finally do my eyeliner correctly! This is when I decided to fix my mind for myself. Every day is still a terrible struggle for me, and I still haven't fallen completely in love with myself yet. But what's important, is that I have finally, actually, accepted myself for me.
Kathy Henderson from Pa on August 05, 2021:
Asley - What a beautiful and honest depiction of coming into your own self. I know this article will help many young girls and older ones who have not jumped the hurdle to self-love. I wish you many blessings, and thank you for sharing.