When I was in sixth grade, a boy in my class told me that I wasn’t beautiful.
“I am not beautiful?” I asked “No, you’re not. That girl right, there she is. You aren’t even close to beautiful. You know you’d be much prettier if you were skinnier. All you do is braid your hair and you have too many pimples. No boy is ever going to fancy someone as plain-looking as you.”, he replied. I did not know how to respond to him. So I just laughed it off. And you know what the strange thing was? I believed him. I believed every single word he said to me.

That day I went home with a strange feeling in my heart. It was the first time I felt my heart ache and trust me when I tell you this, it was one of the worst feelings ever. My heart broke for the very first time. I stomped into the room and shut the door behind me. I wondered, Mom always said that I was the most beautiful girl she has ever known, did she lie to me? I burst into a fit of tears. There was a full-length mirror at the corner of my bed. I stared at my reflection in revulsion. Protruding belly, messy hair, a thick nose that spread across my face, dark skin like the color of earth and thighs as thick as tree trunks. He called me ugly at an age I didn’t even know its meaning, but now I did. I did when I looked at myself observantly for the very first time. I didn’t look like those girls at school, maybe that’s why I didn’t have any friends. That’s what I thought back then. I remember how I constantly changed my hairstyles every morning after that day just so I could fit in. But I never did.

But the sad thing is that I was too blind back then to see who I truly was. 
Now I am nineteen years old and I smile as I am writing this down sitting on my desk with a lamp lit beside me. I have finally learned to love myself despite everything they said. I have forgotten my past but I never forgot the lessons it taught me. As time went by, I’ve learned to embrace every inch of my body. I spend time to get to know myself better. I eat healthy and take care of myself. But self-love isn’t an overnight process, it took me too many years and too many sleepless nights, constantly battling my mind, to become who I am today. I never let my dark thoughts win. Although, I am still young and I have my whole life ahead of me. I am not wise and I still have so many things to learn as time goes by. I am not perfect but nobody is.  
If I could go back to my twelve-year-old self and tell her something it would be this: You are beautiful. Seriously, I mean look at you! you mesmerize me in every way a person can be mesmerized. Don’t let others tell you what you should do and who you should become in life. Let your heart lead the way it will never leave you astray. All of those things they did to you and the words they’ve said wouldn’t matter five years from now. You have so many things to achieve, so many people to meet, so many memories to make and so many places to visit. Don’t let their words affect the way you feel. Don’t be afraid of being yourself. An artwork doesn’t lose its value if somebody doesn’t appreciate it. You are not your body, your skin, your hair or your eyes. You are the soul that lives within you. You are the books you read, the words you write and the paintings you admire. You are too young to be this heartbroken. Sometimes it’s okay to not carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. I wish I could go back in time and say her all this, I wish. But I guess we all learn from experiences right? 

As life goes on you will meet a lot of people. Some will break you, some will betray you, some will love you, some will degrade you and some will reject you.  But during the process of all this, it is important for you to not lose yourself. Be with someone who wouldn’t take you away from your true self. Be with someone who wouldn’t try to mold you into something or someone you’re not. When you’re on your death bed, make sure that you’ve lived a life worth remembering. Make sure you’ve fulfilled all of your dreams, wishes and goals. Make sure you’ve done all those things you wanted to do as a child. Make sure you’ve visited all the countries you wanted to visit. Make sure you’ve loved enough people and helped those who are less privileged than you are. Make sure you’ve done all the things you were created to do. Make sure you’ve utilized your talents and abilities to inspire those around you. Make sure you’ve lived a life worth writing about. So when you’re about to leave this world, you close your eyes peacefully, smile and say “I made it this far, I am so proud of me.”

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