Maddison Dario's Self Discovery Story
I'm getting ready to move for the 9th time in my life. Every time I move I take it as an opportunity to purge, clean, and start over. I generally like the process; the idea of organizing puts my OCD brain at ease. As I begun my pre moving rituals; de cluttering, donating clothes, and sorting through memories I had collected over the past year, nostalgia set in. My roommate and I took our time looking at old photos from my childhood and I shared with her bits and pieces of myself she hadn't really seen before. I proudly showed her goofy pictures of me posing for school dances and relived adventures. Halfway through this show and tell she half jokingly, half seriously asked me "have you always been this in love with yourself”?
I looked at her with surprise and thought about that sentence. We, as a society and especially as women, have been taught to not love ourselves. It’s everywhere. We are constantly critiqued and convinced that who we are isn't good enough. Magazines trick us into thinking we need to be better. We are constantly hounded to sex up, slim down and become smarter. If we are emotional, we are weak. If we are strong, we are frigid. We are ambushed on both a physical and mental level to seek something unattainable. And even if we do achieve this "perfection" that is so sought after, god forbid we acknowledge it. We have to act as if we still aren't proud of ourselves for our achievements OR our looks. That would be conceited! How dare we work hard at something and then feel the slightest bit of pride! Well news flash, no one is perfect and the standards of our society are warped. No one is going to fit perfectly into a cookie cutter mold of some fake happy person. Every single person has flaws but for every flaw there is something equally good, it’s just a matter of recognizing it.
I am 25 years old, living with roommates, working at a grocery store, getting out of two and a half year relationship, and reinventing myself, yet again. I cry at commercials on TV, don't know how to ride a bike, can be overly insecure, and am deathly scared of spiders, but guess what??? I LOVE myself (a lot). I haven't always and I struggled hard to accept the weaknesses I felt I had (and still occasionally do). But instead of hating myself for what I wasn't, I loved myself harder for what I was. I am loyal, an excellent chef, resourceful, good with people, fun, adventurous, have great freckles, organized, enthusiastic, and I love...deep, hard, and sometimes to a fault.
I refuse to let anyone take my self-love away from me because at the end of the day, this is me. I am constantly changing and growing. I learn something new about myself every day. I am aware of what I need to work on in my life and I make a point to challenge myself to be the best version I possibly can be. But when I mess up, when I am weak, and when I allow that self doubt to creep in as it most certainly has and most certainly will again, I forgive myself and take it as an opportunity to learn from and move on. I am proud of the person I am today because I struggled and pushed myself to get here. Self love not only allows you to be free from the standards set in place by people too insecure to express themselves, but it also allows you to be open to fully love someone else and let them love you.
If I could tell that 16 year old me, smiling goofily with friends for homecoming, it would be to get to really know yourself and to love and appreciate all that you are and all that you aren't. Life is about expansion. Expanding your mind, your ideals, your ideas, and soaking up as much of it as you possibly can. I wasted so much time on being insecure and feeling like I wasn't good enough when really I have tons of amazing qualities that I over shadowed with negative thinking.
So as I sat there with my roommate, and boxes full of pictures of myself, and my memories, instead of feeling embarrassed or narcissistic, I looked up at her, I smiled and I said,"YES!