There are so many articles about confidence. Everywhere I go to I see an opinion about how great certain campaigns (like h&m’s) are great for girls self esteem, and how amazing it is that society is finally accepting every body type.
Every time I read something like this I get extremely happy. As many other people, I struggled with self esteem issues, and often found myself comparing my looks to the ones of girls in the magazines. It was awful feeling not worthless, but that there was always someone prettier out there. And even if i knew there is people that are better at certain things and people that were blesses with better genes, it made me feel awful that someone looked that good in a magazine.
Not only the looks of the models, but the articles that insisted that we have to lose weight, the ones that would tell you how to do your makeup to land the cutie in your chem class. I hated all of that.
I will look at myself in the mirror and see big thighs and extremely messy hair. I will see my big nose and even bigger eyebrows and feel like i needed to change. Magazines and society were telling me that anyways, so why not?
Then, one day I realized I didn’t want to change, just accept who I was. I start looking at the mirror and instead of picking on my insecurities, I will see the good things on my body, and write down the good things in my life.
Soon, I started exercising because that gave me energy and made me feel good. I start loving myself, and people will notice it. They will tell me how happy i looked, and how, for some reason, i got prettier.
I realized that confidence was the difference between me and that girl in the magazine (and well, a few hours of Photoshop work). Accepting who we are, and loving every part of it is one of the best things we can do for ourselves.
My birthday was May 2nd and I wanted to share with you things I’ve learned by then. Yes, my birthday was two months ago (happy belated birthday to me!) but it is still accurate. I’ve learned many things throughout my life, and sharing them with people is important to me. These are lessons that are the results of breakups, long nights and moving to a new country, but all of them learned the hard way. 20 things I’ve learned by 20.
People will come and go: and it has nothing to do with you.
Love your body and your hair: nobody is perfect, and most of the people you look up to in a magazine are photoshoped.
Saying no wont make you a b**ch: say no as much as you want.
But saying yes will bring you new opportunities.
It’s okay if you havent been kissed yet: that doesnt define anything
There are good people out there: like the angel of Victoria Secret who gave me a huge discount on underwear.
But really bad people too: like the douche who cut me on the Starbucks line and got the last cake pop.
Read a lot: like a lot! books, magazines, blogs (wink wink). Just read as much as you can.
Be a good friend, always support the ones you love.
People will talk, and judge: so do it anyway. Don’t let people’s opinion define who you are or what you are doing.
Forgive, don’t forget. always remember who hurt you, but don’t hold a grudge. Learn from those experiences.
Your body is yours, your mind is yours, you are yours, so don’t compare yourself to anyone.
Be nice to people: you never know their story.
Go through phases in life, change your routine, and do crazy stuff. unless it is something dangerous or that will hurt you at the end, then just stick to eating pop corn in bed with a huge blanket.
Wear whatever you want: crop tops, short shorts, super long skirts and baggy t-shirts. Express yourself.
If you dress to impress, do it to impress yourself.
Don’t rush into anything: que sera, sera.
Never be someone’s second choice.
A bad day doesn’t mean a bad life. You will have Lindsey Lohan/ Amanda Bynes moments and you will have Taylor Swifts moments too.
Always smile, no matter what.
And know that life is a long-a** learning experience. Don’t ever stop trying new things and learning from your past.
You have been through so much change. You used to be so thin, that when puberty hit I got scared. You started changing so much. Bigger hips and thighs, bigger boobs. Everything felt different. I wanted to go back and be thin, but no matter what you kept being the same bigger body.
Then, somehow, you got thinner. Amazing, I know. But I still complained about it. I complained about the size of my thighs and the curliness of my hair. I kept complaining about how big my nose was.
I started exercising, and eating healthier, and you started toning up. I could see the results and it was great. Still, I complained.I have complained a lot. I have called you ugly, fat, not slim enough. I have compared you to other bodies. I have treated you the way you don’t deserve. I fed you bad food, I let you down, and I wanted to change you no matter what.
Body, I am sorry for not loving you when you are truly beautiful. I am sorry for always wanting to change you, and never accepting who you are. I am sorry for not feeding you with good food, and not giving you the care you truly need. For not listening to you when I exercised enough or when you needed to sleep. Sorry for putting a lot of makeup and tanning lotion to cover yourself up,
Body, you are beautiful, not matter the size, color or shape. I love you body, no matter what.
I am a person who is obsessed with planning. I need to know things ahead of time, and plan accordingly around them. I am a person who doesn’t enjoy spontaneous moments that much, but rather have the knowledge of what it is going on.
I had been like that for a long time, but one day I found myself getting out of my comfort zone and doing something I never imagined I would do: I applied for a study abroad program in HAITI.
Let me break it for you so you can have a better understanding on how this worked out.
My English professor thought I had a great writing style and that I should apply for a writing certificate.
I emailed the director of the certificate and schedule and appointment to know how it works and how to apply for it.
I had the meeting Monday, February 23rd. I met with the second in charge of the program, and the director walked in to meet me.
The director mentioned the trip to Haiti, which focuses on writing.
The deadline is Monday, March 2nd. Just a week away.
I applied, without looking into it.
I spent a week in Haiti.
Now, you might be thinking, why did we go to Haiti for a writing program? Well, Haiti is full of amazing writers and we met them, we also visited places that opened up ideas for prompts as well as a source of inspiration for other pieces of writing.
Haiti is a place that still hasn’t recover from the earthquake, and it is a really poor country. The activities we did were focused on writing, but we did some volunteer work too. Ahaji, the director of the study abroad office, has been working hand in hand with the owner and director of an orphanage in Haiti. Love Orphanage is a non-profit that takes care of kids who lost their parents during the quake, and the idea is not precisely to find them a home but make the orphanage their home. We fund-raised money, gather donations and took them to the house, and of course played with the kids.
Tahina and Fabiola were my “buddies” when we went there, and they made my experience in Haiti 10 times better. These two kids received me with open arms and a huge smile on their faces. They wouldn’t let me alone, and even when I wanted to fix my glasses or my -ehem- bra, they will tap on my leg so I could grab their hands again. They are kids that showed me that you can be happy even if you have nothing.
We also visited the oldest newspaper in Haiti, went to a Voodoo concert and to the Iron Market. We saw how the locals live, and how Haiti really is. What impressed me the most is how Haiti is portrayed in the media. I blame how scared I was when I finally realized I was going to the media actually. There are beautiful scenes there, and amazing people who are doing everything they can to survive.
I will admit that more than once I cried during the trip. When I said bye to the kids, and when we wrote poems with Haitians even if we had a language barrier. Sometimes it was too frustrating being there, other times I felt hopeless and I wanted to go back to America. The trip was too intensive, and required a lot from us, so crying now and then was understandable. I felt overwhelmed more than once, because everything we were doing was so different, and not at all what I expected to be.
It was especially hard to take everything in. All I saw opened my eyes and inspired me to write more, to give more. But being overwhelmed by the experience made it difficult to actually realize everything that was going on.
It was not until I sat down the last day to finish all my assignments that I realized what this experience was. Yes, I felt sadness and tons of mixed emotions during the trip, but is a feeling I will not change ever.
Did I have one of the most amazing experiences ever? HELL YEAH! It is a week i will not trade for anything in the world, where I became a better person and a better writer. It is indeed a life-changing experience, and something spontaneous that I am truly glad I did.
If you want to help Love Orphanage and learn more about it, please go here. Please donate and help them build a new house for the kids.