Own Who You Are – You Are Enough

by She Flies With Her Own Wings

Lets face it, growing up is tough. There’s the expectations from parents, teachers, coaches/instructors, peer pressure, and lets not forget the media telling us what we’re supposed to look like.  During our early teen years, we almost all go through a phase where all we want is to be accepted and fit in.

My self-counsiousness began in 6th grade.  The older brother of a boy I had a crush on said I had a big nose.  Before then, I had never paid any attention to my nose; but it then consumed so much of me for the next few years.  I would attempt to strategically angle my face in pictures to try to make my nose appear smaller.  I drove my parents crazy when between the ages of 12-15 I would ask for a nose-job for my birthday.  I began to constantly compare my nose to others’, and that led to a habit of comparing every aspect of myself to others.

When I was a sophomore in high school, I got boobs.  Not sure how else to put that.  As an athlete I found them to be a big (no pun intended) inconvenience, and many of my friends were still rather flat chested, so I disliked them even more.  I would wear a sports bra and a camisole under my shirts in order to try to make my breasts as flat as possible.  As a now 23 year old, I’m wondering how on earth I thought boobs were a bad thing?! Keep in mind they weren’t big enough to cause any back problems, they were just larger than most of my friends.

A statement made to me in the 6th grade led to years and years of myself constantly comparing myself to others.  We’re all made differently!  The fact that I wanted to look and be like everyone else except myself, made it impossible for me to be happy with who I was.  I spent most of my teen years being self-concious and depressed.  For those who weren’t very close to me, that might come as a big surprise.

My junior year of high school I decided to get more involved.  In a way, I was reaching out for help.  I was elected Junior Class President, and that sparked a passion for leadership.  I quickly became involved in other clubs and organizations; National Honor Society, Habitat for Humanity, my school Newspaper, Key Club, had co-founded Klamath Basin Youth Without Borders and participated in the first home-build in Southern Thailand the year before.

Although these clubs and organizations played a big part in my confidence, ultimately it came down to me: one day I decided that I was beautiful, and so I carried out my life as if I was a beautiful girl…it doesn’t have anything to do with how the world perceives you.  What  matters is what you see.  Your body is your temple, it’s your home, and you must decorate it.  All of these events led to my decision to compete for the title Miss Klamath County/Miss City of Sunshine 2009, and had sparked my personal platform of YOUth Empowerment through leadership skills and community service/involvement.  I knew that I wanted to help other students gain confidence in who they are and give them the tools to pursue their dreams through the avenues that ultimately saved my life and made me who I am today.

Why do teens crave affirmation, attention, and compliments?  Why do they need to be accepted?  The truth is, it’s a human thing.  It’s something we all want.  So why aren’t we, as adults, doing a better job to help cultivate this confidence?  Why don’t we celebrate students differences?  Why don’t we give them more control of their own lives instead of micro-managing their decisions?  Why don’t we give them the tools to be able to look at the boy who said they have a big nose and say “my nose is just fine. It’s part of who I am, and I love this person” (that boy and I became friends, so we’re good now, he apologized)!

I now have the opportunity to travel to schools and speak to different youth organizations about the importance of being a leader in their own lives and getting involved in their communities.  Reminding them that they are enough, and to own who they are.  I once had a student make the remark “of course you’re confident, you’re beautiful”; that didn’t mean I always felt that way though, or saw myself that way.  I speak to students with my hair done and makeup on, sometimes with a sash and crown too, so I make sure to share a picture of me without any of that, because that isn’t who I am.  When all that comes off, I’m still me, and I have to be happy with that person.  If I left my confidence up to my hair and makeup, I wouldn’t be confident very often (most days you can find me with my hair up, no makeup, and workout clothes on).

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I’ve learned that confidence will make you more beautiful than any outfit, hair product, or makeup ever will. Make sure you wear it (confidence) everyday.

This is my message: You have the power to embrace life, to live everyday to its fullest. You have the power to be anyone you choose to be, and let the world see that. You have the power to dream big, and turn those dreams into reality. You have the power to make a difference in someone’s life, to start a chain reaction. You have the power to change the world!

I’m going to end with the wise words of this sweet 10 year old I have the privilege of knowing…Just Be You!

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