Below is a guest post from an amazing young lady, Chelsea Goodman. She is a sophomore in college and has faced quite a bit in her life. I have had the honor and privilege to watch her grow as a person from 8th grade on. She has an incredible spirit and I know you will enjoy her story!
Self-worth (n): The sense of one’s own value or worth as a person; self-esteem; self-respect.
What a loaded word. Every girl searches for her self-worth, but most, including me, look or have looked in all the wrong places. You won’t find it in grades, your parents, a boyfriend or girlfriend, or from a sport or club. This word and meaning to you must come entirely from you, and that is one scary thought. If you google how to gain self-worth you will get about 50,300,000 results in just 0.25 seconds, but that won’t get you anywhere. The journey to find self-worth can be scary and downright lonely; you must address your issues to become a bigger and better person in the end. Self-worth is easily defined and researched but how do you find it when you must suddenly stand alone?
For the first two years of my high school career I not only thought, but truly believed I had life figured out. My parents were still happily married, I was in a good place with my two older brothers and I was a varsity pommie with a cumulative gpa of 3.7; life was good. It was good until the week before spring break sophomore year when I found out that my dad was kicked out of the house. That whole day is a blur but I remember crying, crying, and, you guessed it, more crying. How was this happening? I was a happy girl who overcame the typical personal issues of middle school with a happy family. In the midst of what would be the most excruciating painful time in my life, I was faced with the question every kid from a divorced family faces; was it my fault?
After not speaking to either of my parents for quite some time and hiding out in my poms coaches room, I had to learn to face the world and the question looming over my head; was it my fault? After deciding that it had to be, my self-worth that I thought I had built over the years went tumbling down. I soon began questioning all of my actions, I became severely depressed, I hated myself, and worst of all, the majority of this happened in the privacy of my room. Being Italian, I have never been that great at hiding my emotions; because of what was going on at home, my grades dropped, and worst of all, my poms coach caught on in a terrible way. She found out because I had a complete mental breakdown at practice; sobbing, shaking and on the verge of vomiting, I ran to find solace in the girls bathroom. My best friend Carol quickly came to my aid but I knew I had to tell my coach, Stacy, what was going on. After that day, Stacy became my sounding board when I thought I couldn’t carry on anymore because life was getting too painful and negativity about myself crept in all day, every day. It was unbearable.
This post is not a sob story, it is a survival story. I had to learn to stand alone in the face of the unknown and love myself regardless. Most adults will tell you when you realize you hate yourself, “See the best in yourself! Don’t listen to the negative words you think about yourself!” Those are all fine and dandy actions to take, but I found them completely useless. Since I hated my parents, I hated the long, angular, boney nose they gave me. I hated my Italian genes and the lack of hips that came with it. But mostly, I downright hated the person I was becoming inside and I didn’t know what to do to stop it. What I thought was self-worth came from a happy family, good grades and being on a team. Those are all great things to have in life, but for me, I was not fulfilled in the way I later learned I needed. Below, you will find a few points that have helped me on my ever ongoing quest to find self-worth.
- Take your view of your worst feature and find a way to glorify it. For me, my nose was in my mind, the most heinous creature plopped directly in the center of my face. After slowly growing into it, I started to love it. I love how boney and defined it is. I love the ball at the end and how it points slightly upward. Mostly, I love the trail of freckles that cover the top and spread out onto my cheeks. After finding the beauty in my heritage-filled nose, I decided to pierce it. Instead of wanting a nose job, I wanted to bring attention to it because I knew that since I loved it, that confidence would radiate and others would see that.
- Stop doing what you think makes your parents happy. Now, don’t take this the wrong way. I’m not saying elope with an axe-murderer or anything, but learn to “do you.” When my parents went through their divorce, I quickly learned that I had to do what made me happy because my parents were in no place to be giving me positive reinforcement because they could hardly take care of themselves. I stopped focusing on a career that would make money and followed my passion for teaching and global outreach. My dad wasn’t exactly happy to learn I would be making so little in life, but it makes me happy and at the end of the day, that is the ONLY thing that matters.
- Find your go-to gal/gals. In high school and even now in college, I have been lucky enough to find two of these. First is my best friend Carol. We have been friends for just about 10 years and counting. She knows everything about me and vice versa and yet we have been successful in not judging one another. She has let me cry to her about everything from going up a dress size to having my childhood home sold after living there for 17 years. The best part? She listens whole heartedly the entire time. Second is my poms coach, Stacy. I was completely and utterly terrified of her freshman and most of sophomore year until my breakdown. After that, I soon learned that she is exactly what I needed. She pushed me into greatness, and at the same time pulled back and lent me her motherly instinct when I would have panic attacks at school. Bottom line, find a girlfriend that you know will never leave your side. These two gals are different ages but it doesn’t matter because they just get me.
- Lastly, use post its. Seems weird, but trust me on this. Get a pack and write your favorite words. Put those words where you will see them every day. For me, I use a mixture of words and phrases. Some words include heritage, snow white and kittens. I love my heritage and I am extremely proud to be Italian and German so seeing that word evokes positive emotions that have built my self-worth. Snow white was the only pale princess with dark hair. As a very fair woman with basically black hair, I have heard allllll of the pale comments you can think of. However, learning to celebrate my skin and hair has been one of the best things for me and my self-worth. Kittens. Do I really need to explain?
Over all, these tips have been directly helpful in my quest for self-worth. I have not only found my self-worth but it is building every day and that is one of the best feelings in the world. In the face of my parent’s divorce, I have learned to stand alone and not only be comfortable with it, but let it help define me and my self-worth as a young college female.
What about you? I would love to hear what has helped you in your journey.
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