Photo by Emily Long
When I was younger, I was filled to the brim with confidence. I was going to be a famous writer, and at the age of eleven I set out to do everything possible to make that dream my reality. Through my tweens and teens I wrote every day, attended every writing workshop I could convince my school to allow me to attend, entered competitions, and felt no fear. I can also clearly remember looking in the mirror, again a very sage eleven year old, and deciding that I didn’t think I was pretty. That was followed directly by the thought, “Eh, not much I can do about it.” I was infallible.
By the time I was 18, finished with school and a legal adult, things were different. I had no confidence or faith in myself. In merely seven years, I had grown into my body, but out of my confident mindset.
Everything I had previously thought I knew about myself was replaced with the mean shadow of doubt. Nothing I did felt good enough. I had this overwhelming feeling that I didn’t have an original thought in my head, and slowly, I stopped writing. I’m not even sure how this happened, but I feel like it was a combination of the high school system, bad choices I made in my love life, and something deeper that I just couldn’t put my finger on. I was a sad girl.
Why is it so hard to be happy? Why do we barrage our minds with negative thoughts and talk down to ourselves constantly?
Fast-forward ten years, and I am now just past my 28th birthday. I have spent a year living overseas on my own and traveling across nearly all of the continents (I’m coming for you Antarctica!). I have volunteered for causes I feel passionately about and worked for some bizarre companies. Last year I finally ditched my penchant for bad men and have replaced it with the desire for happy, healthy love. I have a business degree and a teaching qualification, and I am about to start working toward my Masters degree. I am in a really good place and I have worked my butt off to get here. I finally fought against that tide of feelings inside screaming ‘You’re not good enough’, against social media’s halcyon haze of Instagram filters, perfect makeup and brunches.
I am happy.
Not so strangely, along with this feeling of happiness, my desire to write has returned. So much for that myth about depression being good for creativity. I enrolled in a writing course, and had my first article published two weeks after, then another and another. I don’t feel devoid of ideas and creativity anymore, and I am actually struggling to find time to write out all the things in my head.
I have found love with the best person you could imagine; he is kind and creative and we bounce off each other in such a positive way. We plan trips, and support each other in our careers, and have a blast. I’ve got some exciting plans for the future.
One of my favourite quotes is, “Treat yourself with the same kindness you would a small child.” I think this is one of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard to date. Don’t think mean things about yourself every time you look in the mirror, and make sure you don’t let others say mean things to you either. You are beautiful, special, creative and wonderful and there is an infinite amount of love and opportunities waiting out there for you. The more you look, the more you will find.