Select Page
Share-My-Story Series: Amy

Share-My-Story Series: Amy

I met Amy several years ago because we were going through a similar trial. She seemed like a super hero to me. She was confident, calm and knowledgeable. She was all of those things because she had chosen to develop those skills. I love that about her. I’m excited for you to read a small part of her story and see the changes that self-compassion made for her.

Amy’s Story:

I used to think that I had to change who I was or what I was working
on to match society’s standards or expectations. That who I was wasn’t
enough. I always had to do more and be more. And do and be what other
people wanted me to do even if it was different than what I wanted.

In high school and college I was an overachiever to the tee. I
remember my freshman year in college, I told my mom about all the
clubs I was interested in and trying to be a part of plus my school
schedule and she said, “You know it’s impossible to be in EVERY club
and do EVERY thing while you’re there, right?” (Even though I knew she
was right, part of me still thought I could do it.)

I put so much of my identity and worth in my grades, in my piano
performance, in how many cool things I was doing, that I experienced
burn out ALL the time. And I wouldn’t even let myself go to sleep
sometimes. I remember one night my roommates came back at 3 am from
seeing a Harry Potter midnight release. I was STILL up perfecting a
paper for my Anthropology class. It was already a great paper before,
and I would have loved to go to the movie with them. But I operated
from the belief that I couldn’t have fun until all my work was done,
and I couldn’t be done until it was perfect. So I didn’t go. I was
hustling around trying to earn my worth like a chicken running around
with it’s head cut off. I get exhausted just thinking about that stage
of my life again! So many expectations!

After I got married, my husband and I ended up having some really hard
times and things to work through. And that’s when I really started to
learn that I couldn’t ACTUALLY do it all. I wasn’t taking care of
myself. I wasn’t allowing myself to feel emotions and be where I was
at. And the situation we were dealing with was in a lot of ways out of
my control. So I couldn’t hustle or manage it to make it better. I had
to slow down and start learning how to take care of myself and be
where I was at so I could start to heal and love myself as I was
instead of as I thought I “should” be.

Along the way I learned something pretty cool about compassion. The
word compassion actually means “to suffer with.” And another
definition of “suffer” is “to support, to allow.” How often do we do
this for ourselves? How often do we operate in a space of
self-compassion where we offer support to ourselves and allow
ourselves to be where we are at? And then to be able to see and love
and celebrate who we are? Not enough in my opinion. We seem to
constantly be trying to change ourselves or our situations instead of
being where we are at and making decisions grounded in true alignment
to our highest self.

As I learned to practice self-compassion, I have experienced the
greatest peace and confidence in my life. I have learned to actually
look at myself and be with myself in good and bad times. To see MY
heart and focus on nourishing it and allowing it to grow instead of
looking at the people around me and burying my true self with
expectations, comparisons and lies about who I am.

Practicing self-compassion–actually being WITH ourselves without
comparing believing we need to change who we are to grow–is powerful.
And I believe that’s the most important journey any woman can embark
on. It’s not about becoming someone different, it’s about discovering
and resting in the strength of who we ALREADY ARE. I believe that a
woman who knows who she is and whose she is is the most powerful force
for good on this earth! So no matter where you are on this journey,
stay on the trail! It will be the best view you’ve ever seen with lots
of beauty on the way!

Along with my story, I wanted to share one simple act of compassion
that I’ve used in my journey. And you can do it right now. 🙂 Put your
hand on your heart. Close your eyes. Take three deep breaths, and say
to yourself “I see you and I love you [insert your name].” It’s a
simple gesture that can be the next step to resting the strength of
who you already are.

Share-My-Story Series: Jennie

Share-My-Story Series: Jennie

Jennie is my next door neighbor. When I read her story I was shocked. One of my favorite things about Jennie is how comfortable she is with herself. I love being around her because she doesn’t try to be anything other than herself. It’s so refreshing! We can all learn a lot from her. Thanks for sharing Jennie!

Jennie’s Story:

Most of my friends today would probably have a hard time believing that when I was young, I was probably one of the most shy people on the entire planet.  I talked plenty and was pretty normal at home, but I would hardly say anything while spending the entire day at my babysitter’s house, prior to starting school.  It only grew worse in kindergarten.  I spent the entire year of kindergarten not saying a single word to my teacher or any of my classmates.  I would often get the lid of my cardboard pencil box stuck down inside the box and couldn’t get it out.  I would take it to my teacher and just hold it out to her.  One time she told me she wouldn’t fix it again unless I asked her to.  Of course, it happened again, I wouldn’t ask, and she just had to fix it for me.  Another time I was muttering something to myself while doing some work at my desk and was caught by the student sitting next to me.  I remember them proclaiming, “She speaks!”  I was horrified.  At recess I would just walk around the playground and observe all the other kids playing because I refused to talk with any of them.

Luckily, this didn’t continue in 1st grade, but I continued to be quite shy the rest of my school years.  I never raised my hand.  I only answered questions if I was called on.  I would offer the bare minimum participation if it was a class where my grade depended on it.  I would get very nervous to give presentations in front of my class.  I had friends and hung out with them at lunch, but usually offered very little to any conversations.  I was the best listener in that period of my life.  My friends could tell me anything because they knew I wouldn’t pass it on to others.

Sports have always been a huge part of my life and they were a haven for me as I grew up so shy.  In elementary school I was usually found on the playground to be playing tetherball, handball, basketball or football.  I could enjoy my passions without having to say a whole lot while participating.  I played on softball and soccer teams every year and gained most of my friendships, outside of church, from participating on a team.  

I also had an amazing friend that came into my life when I was a freshman in high school.  Our ward boundaries at church were changed that year and I was super upset about it at first.  My closest friend at church, who had been my friend since 2nd grade, was being moved into a different ward.  I was already shy and was starting high school, so this was bad timing, or so I thought.  However, after some new families were put into our ward, a girl from one of them really showed interest in being my friend.  She pursued our friendship very hard and was really able to get me to open up to someone outside my family more than I ever had before.  We became inseparable throughout my years in high school.  

Besides this friend, my biggest joys in high school came from playing on our varsity softball team for four years.  Our team was really good!  We were named National Champions my senior year by USA Today.  Spending four years on this team, playing with at least three future USA softball team members and winning championships really helped me to develop a strong confidence in myself despite my natural shyness.  At the softball banquet at the end of each year, the seniors would give speeches.  Of course, this really stressed me out leading up to my senior year, knowing I would one day have to deliver a speech to our team, coaches, parents, and whoever else was there.  During my senior year I would sometimes be asked by teammates what I planned to say at the banquet.  I would always reply that I wasn’t sure.  The banquet arrived and the three other seniors all had their speeches written out and prepared and they were visibly nervous, which is normally how I expected to be.  They were shocked to see that I didn’t have a speech prepared on paper at all!  I had experience giving talks in church each year, as a youth, to the entire congregation, so I was blessed to have more public speaking experience than my other teammates.  They had probably only spoken in front of classes, and therefore, were about to deliver a speech to their largest crowd.  They all gave pretty quick speeches and then I took my turn last.  I went to the microphone and just started speaking.  I told stories and memories from my four years on the team, talked far longer than the others, and then ended my speech.  The room was in complete amazement of what I had just done!

After high school, I left southern CA and went to Ricks College in Rexburg, ID.  I didn’t know a single person who was going to Ricks College that year and I was about to meet five roommates I knew nothing about.  I had gained confidence in myself through high school while playing softball, having a close friend and learning how to speak in public.  I decided that I was going to completely change as I went off to college.  When everyone knew me as the shy kid it was hard to change into anything else, especially when it was against my nature, and I was comfortable in that role.  However, as I was starting from scratch in a new environment, where no one knew me or had labeled me, I was able to find the confidence to put myself out there, open up to others, and offer my opinions in classes, at church, or in social situations.  I found my college years to be very rewarding as I made some great friends, continued to play softball on the Ricks College team, pursued new interests, and found new passions.  

Today, I feel far away from that deathly shy little girl.  Today, as many probably know, it is hard to get me to stop talking when I am roped into a conversation about one of my passions: sports, politics, the gospel, my family, my hobbies, etc.  When I speak in public, give talks at church, or teach a lesson, I still don’t write the entire thing out.  I just have an index card with some notes and a direction for where I want my thoughts to go.  I am living proof that our weaknesses can become strengths!  The more I connect with others, the more I have become my true self.  I believe shyness may have been my true nature then, but I was meant to learn, grow, and overcome that nature so that I could reach my full potential.  I have been on a few retreats with Get Out There Girl and I have never felt out of place or uncomfortable, even if I didn’t know a majority of the women there.  I love that I can feel comfortable around others, especially those I am getting to know.  Being shy was very restrictive, but leaving it behind has been freeing!  

Share-My-Story Series: Emily

Share-My-Story Series: Emily

I met Emily through my husband’s work. She was gracious enough to go to lunch with me and share her business expertise. Ever since that day I have been drawn to Emily. Her positive energy and self confidence are contagious. Emily is a supportive friend who remembers details that other friends might forget. She is an amazing woman who adds value wherever she goes. I am so thankful she was willing to share her story. I learned a lot from her and I know you will as well.

Emily’s Story:

I think I was born with high self-esteem. I LOVE MYSELF. Truly. People ask how I learned to love myself so completely, but I don’t know, which is why I think I must have been born with it. I’m not the ideal body type and never have been, but that has never affected my deep-rooted knowledge that I am beautiful. I also think I’m pretty funny, but I’m self-aware enough to know that sometimes I’m the only one laughing at my jokes…and that’s ok! Something I want all women to know is that it’s not prideful to have self-love. 

Even with my insanely high self esteem, I’ve had times where I let people “get in my head”. I’m a bold and bright personality and there have been people close to me that in the name of “helping” tried to tone me down. I was told my passion, my appearance, my style, etc were not the norm and that I needed to tame them down to fit in and get ahead. 

In all my life, I’ve never tried to fit in, however as a responsible adult I wanted to listen to the feedback from people I thought had my best interest at heart. So, a few years ago I bought clothes that were more neutral, spoke up less in groups, dyed my hair blonde (I hated it, but a well meaning friend suggested it), and frankly got more boring. As a response to everything else being muted at that time, I dyed my hair bold red, and it’s a decision I will never regret (I LOVE it).

Now, I have plenty of room for improvement, but it took some time and skill to learn to differentiate between the people in my life that truly had my best interest at heart and those that cared more about appearances and didn’t understand my unique ability to not care what the generic public thinks of me (I reserve the caring for my inner circle). 

My “wake up” moment was meeting, Bob, the kind of person that is your instant best friend. Almost in the first breath, he had me googling “Bob Quick’s Journey” to see for myself his amazing accomplishments, including bicycling across america (3x), having 32 heart procedures in the last 16 years, 20 stents, and most recently a quadruple bypass surgery. We became friends on Facebook and he is continually the most encouraging and positive person. I met Bob when he was at work, helping me buy a new door. Even in a professional setting, he could completely own who he is and Bob’s total openness instantly endeared me to him. Bob’s light sparked the realization (or perhaps remembrance) that it’s our beautiful differences that not only make us human, but also attract friendships. 

I moved into a new house during the couple of years I spent suppressing my more bold nature and truly struggled to make close friends. I love all my neighbors and positively feel a friendship with all of them, but had no best friend. I shed many tears seeing women enjoy close friendships, but honestly didn’t know how to forge one of my own. It was hard. I went on a lot of solo hikes during that time (the mountains are my balm). There’s something about the fresh air, achieving a new height, feeling the refreshing spray of a waterfall, meandering a trail, and enjoying God’s varied creations that fills my soul with peace and joy. It’s a renewal that I treasure!

Something that held me back from inviting friends hiking, is that I’m very slow. But, this last Summer I pushed past my worry that I’d hold my more spry friends back and shared some great hikes and walks with a few incredible women, and on occasion their families. Communing with nature and people is a magical combo.

The reclaiming of my oddities this past year opened the door to finally making some dear friends, which has been very fulfilling. It takes some serious faith to let go of inhibition and “bee yourself” (as the genie in Aladdin says), but it has greatly helped me connect with people in deeper, more meaningful ways. Accept yourself flaws and all, and I believe that invites others to feel comfortable being their flawed self with you. 

P.S. I love people and making new friends, if you do too let’s connect on Instagram @mcleanentertain

Share-My-Story Series: Kelli

Share-My-Story Series: Kelli

My purpose with the Share-My-Story Series is to help us see ourselves in each other’s stories. I truly believe that seeing our shared humanity will bring us closer together. We are much more alike than different and we all have battles we are fighting. I am so grateful to so many of you for sharing vulnerably. My heart is overwhelmed with love every time I read one of your stories.

I met Kelli on last year’s couples retreat in Moab, Utah. She and her husband, Mike, came with us and they are the type of people you want to come with you on every trip. Kelli is warm and friendly and as adventurous as heck. We had a couple hours of down time on the retreat and ended up going rock climbing spontaneously because it sounded fun. They are cool like that! Kelli is the type of person I wish I could hike with every week and just soak up her good energy. Kelli was brave and shared one of her struggles with us. Thank you Kelli for being you and for showing your vulnerable side with us. Love you!

Kelli’s Story:

Hello! I am Kelli. I am a Lover of mountain sports, all things outdoors, my beautiful children, my handsome husband, my amazing dogs and my family and friends. 

This was truly one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. My inspiring friend Brittany asked me to share my story. My Story. And for the next two weeks I put it off repeatedly because telling your story feels scary. Sharing the not so pretty parts, writing it all down makes it real and sharing it leaves me feeling vulnerable. Two things I do not particularly enjoy. I like to laugh and most people who’ve met me know that. I’m seemingly always delightful and full of joy and energy and sunshine. I enjoy light feelings, stupid humor, fart jokes and all things superficial, silly, casual and without depth because depth fills me with fear. I have a nervous mind. I think and over think and ruminate until I am unwell. Even the smallest of conflicts can create deep and resonating fears of abandonment because someone has seen that I’m imperfect. Only a very small handful of people know this about me, so sharing my story tells everyone the ugly truth. I decided to share my story because there have been so many brave women who went before me in their beautiful honesty and have allowed me the courage to face my own short comings and find healthy ways to cope. 

I was born a pretty girl. Now I know how that sounds, trust me, I am NOT full of myself, in fact quite the opposite. I am always surprised when people like me or find value in what I have to offer. I felt the pressures that are assigned to young girls, at least to me, to look a certain way, to wear my hair a certain way, to weigh a certain perfect amount of pounds so that I could be pleasing. When I was in Junior high I was teased on the bus and called “Santa Clause” for my imperfect 13 year old body. This is where my eating disorder began and my drive to at least be perceived as pleasing switched into over drive. Years of over working/under feeding and sort of perpetually living with the feeling that I was “in trouble” “ inadequate” and truly perpetually uncomfortable. (think the feeling you have when you’ve just been called to the principals office. All the time.) My mind didn’t allow any room for peace and my body was in a bad place. Now there were times when I was more lax, more nurturing, more understanding with myself but 4 years ago, I again found myself in a very dark and lonely place. I’d found a beautiful and wonderful Pilates place with an instructor I just adored, it started small, a few workouts a week and watching what I ate slowly became two-a-days and a real fear of eating. Then came “The Challenge “ this was an event at the studio that was meant to motivate and provide accountability to those healthy enough to participate. One aspect was measuring our body fat. My drive became laser focused. I began by adding a running mileage goal for myself in addition to daily workouts and a rigid meal plan. Every single calorie was accounted for. The challenge ended and I took second place losing 6 lbs and placing my 5’8 frame at around 116 lbs. I was so tired. Most of my days consisted of a class, a trail run and crashing the rest of the day from exhaustion. So deeply tired both mentally and physically . I worked out hard, I saw myself in the mirror, stringy and unwell, bruises on my spine from sit-ups on the floor, my face hardened and my clothes loose. Now this was an interesting time, I had some people absolutely praising me, telling me I’d never looked better, never been better and then there was my husband, fear in his eyes when he sat me down and told me he was genuinely worried about me. Then came the thoughts,  dark and unrelenting, the feeling of doom, the anxiety that started to cause panic attacks. I found myself wanting to die. To be no more. I sat at lunch with 3 of my closest friends and the entire time I thought about how they’d be better off without me. Everyone would. I am a mess. What could I possibly have to offer the 3 beautiful kids and husband I had been so blessed with. I looked at my life, comfortable and safe and I felt even more remorse for carrying that darkness in my heart. One day at the gym I suffered a panic attack in class, one moment I was doing burpees and the next I was having tunnel vision and crying uncontrollably, I ran to my car and called my Doctor. I could do no more. I had an emotional appointment that day with my Doc who placed me on an antidepressant. I felt ashamed that I needed one. I felt embarrassed telling my husband and the side effects initially were difficult to manage. I slowly entered a phase of complete burnout. I literally couldn’t find it inside me to go to the gym. I gave my body what it so desperately needed, rest, food, patience and most of all acceptance. Over the next year I healed, I took my antidepressants, I read, I spoke about things that left me feeling raw and exposed and slowly but surely I began to feel like someone worthwhile again. I became intentional about the things I did. About giving my time to the people I felt safe and loved and supported by. I prayed, prayed to God, prayed to Mother Nature, prayed to the mountain, prayed to a greater being for peace, calm, clarity, and comfort in the midst of the storm brewing inside me, and slowly but surely, it came. I set boundaries. This was and is the hardest part, there are those in my life who I know love me deeply and who I love and miss but at the same time were unable to engage in healthy and productive relationships. I stopped doing things that made me feel disappointed. I started to put my mental wellness first. I started to LOVE ME. 

The mountain became my holy place. Where my mind was quieted. Where my body didn’t need to look a certain way, only to perform, to be capable, strong and fast……or slow depending on the day. I am now in a better place. I’ve gained 20 lbs, I laugh a lot and I do it with a genuine heart. I hike, trail run, climb, ski, mountain bike and do Pilates. A little something to move my body everyday. I eat. I don’t count a damn calorie or macro ever. (I know so many people who are able to be successful at this and I’m certainly not against it, I just know it equals compulsive behavior in me) I share my story with a few safe people and now with the world. 

I am so deeply honored to be in this body. It has given life to 3 amazing kids who I love and adore with my entire being. It adventures with my husband who still gives me butterflies. I am worthy. I am strong. And I am great at dirty jokes. And still bad at vulnerability and being serious. 

It’s important to note that I am happier now than I’ve been in a long while. I’m able to be more of the mother, wife, and friend that I want to be. I’m capable and there is happiness enough in that. 

I feel overwhelming support and love from my tribe and my hope to each and every woman out there is that you may find the things and people who make you well. Those who give you wings. Who raise you up and show you what it means to be whole, complete and content. Now, Get out there Girls. The world is ours. ♥️ Kelli

P.S. Kelli makes and sells the softest blankets. Go check them out here:

Share-My-Story Series: Rachel

Share-My-Story Series: Rachel

I’ve known Rachel since she was a teenager. My first experience with meeting her was when I moved into her house at 8 months pregnant. My husband and I moved to Washington D.C. and needed a place to stay until we found an apartment. Rachel’s dad is my husband’s second cousin and offered to let us stay with them. Rachel gave up her room for me. She even decorated it with a welcome sign. What teenager in high school does that?! She willingly gave up her space and did it with a smile on her face. We stayed for a few weeks and she eventually got her room back. Her kindness and selflessness impacted me and made me want to be a better person. It was a big deal for her to leave her room. A sacrifice that I will forever be grateful to Rachel for. Since then Rachel has done dozens of similar acts of kindness for me. Rachel is good for all the right reasons and I am so grateful to call her my friend.

Rachel’s Story:

I have always been uncomfortable in my own skin. Always insecure with my looks, my personality, my sense of humor, my intelligence. My lack of self esteem drove me to being so worried and wrapped up in all my insecurities. I was so busy worrying about how I looked and acted that I forgot to really enjoy life. Which is why when I found out about Get Out There Girl I was instantly pulled in. It killed two very personal birds with one stone for me. The first stone is enjoying life by going on fun adventures with women who are accepting and nonjudgmental who are striving for the same things as me. And the second stone is loving yourself and building confidence. I really love this organization and what it stands for. I’m not going to pretend that I still don’t struggle with low self esteem, it’s a continuous battle for me on a day to day basis. Even just a few months ago I was able to go on trip with my husband to Costa Rica, a once in a lifetime vacation. I was 7 months pregnant. We were able to hike up to this amazing waterfall and there was one fall that you can jump off of which I was so excited about. But as soon as I saw the other girls in their swimming suits I instantly self imploded and sunk into an emotional downward spiral. I refused to be seen in my swimming suit and therefore passed up the opportunity to jump off the waterfall. I was so upset with myself that I let myself get into my head and robbed me of a fun life memory even after all I feel I have learned and tried to get over. Which is why it is so important to have a group of empowering women who get it and who fight the same battles. A chance to be reminded of true beauty: creating lasting happy memories, getting outside in nature, and myself just as I am.

Share-My-Story Series

Share-My-Story Series

Today’s story is a little different in the fact that it is anonymous. My friend wanted to share her story knowing that it would help someone else but she asked that I keep her identity confidential. Her story is powerful and I am so grateful she was willing to share with all of us. We have a wonderful community of supportive women in Get Out There Girl. Thank you for that!

Story:

I have only recently been able to ponder on what it means to be compassionate toward myself. What does it mean to love yourself? I was always worried that giving myself praise or love would be selfish and arrogant. However, I’m learning that I was wrong. Having self-compassion means much more than loving my accomplishments and showing-off my abilities. It means caring for and understanding the person that is me, and coming to this realization has brought me strength and joy that I didn’t even remember was possible.

When I was nine years old, I experienced some sexual abuse. I kept the events to myself for years, trying to brush it off as though what had happened, although it caused me pain, fear and sadness, wasn’t anything to fuss over. As I grew and matured, I started to worry that the gravity and the seriousness of what had happened to me was something very wrong and I didn’t know how to make it better, it was just there, a part of my past and I hated myself for it.

I felt weak, powerless, foolish and embarrassed. I felt smothered, and conquered. I was a talented young person and yet I doubted myself at every turn. Many people spoke highly of me and I didn’t have any trouble making friends, but as I continued to grow, I felt like I was living a deceitful life. Although I was constantly receiving positive messages from many sources (my teachers, my church leaders, my coaches, and my family), I was confused and I didn’t feel like I deserved any of it. I told myself that if only others knew how weak I was and how easily I had been taken advantage of, how stupidly naïve I was, and what a terrible person I was, they wouldn’t be impressed, in fact they wouldn’t like me at all. I felt dishonest and trapped. I then fell into the dark world of very hurtful and negative self-talk. I think many of us find ourselves there, for many different reasons. For me, no one knew that I was damaged, no one knew, except me and God and I was afraid of what He thought of me. Soon I found myself degrading every part of who I was. I didn’t like my body, I didn’t like the way I talked, I didn’t like the way I walked, I didn’t like watching videos or seeing pictures of myself because I just hated the person I was. I felt like I was pretty much good for nothing, the world didn’t need me in it.

Years have gone by and I still have so much to learn, but I want to share what I am beginning to understand about self-compassion. Even after being married and creating a beautiful life and an adorable little family, I am guilty of having terrible thoughts toward myself. There have been a very few who I have confided in and who have given me some help along the way, but for the most part I thought that by burying the darkest part of me and moving on, the hate I felt for myself would diminish over time, and I think in some ways, it did. I grew out of some of those negative feelings, yet there have been times when I still feel overwhelmed with fear; fear of being taken advantage of again (yes, even in marriage! It surprised me too), fear of allowing others to know me (all of me), fear of telling myself that I was okay, fear of NOT telling myself that I was okay, fear that if I told others about what had happened, they’d think I was being dramatic, fear that maybe, I WAS being dramatic, fear that if I asked someone for help, they’d think differently of me, or somehow I’d feel worse about myself, fear that I wouldn’t be able to protect my children like I was unable to protect myself, fear that I may unintentionally hurt my children (statistics do say that those who have experienced sexual abuse are more likely to perform sexual abuse on others), fear that I was tiresome to those around me, especially when I had troubles, fear that I wasn’t enough for my husband. There are others who endure so much more than I ever did, and I still hated myself for not being able to forget about what had happened and move on. The truth is, and it has taken me a long time to see it, but the truth is that I was cruel. I was being cruel to a human being. Dumb and worthless were adjectives I may have used for myself, but I never thought of myself as a mean person.

As I learn about self-compassion and what that really means, I think, for the first time, I am truly

beginning to recognize my value. If I step out of myself for a little bit and watch the kind of person I was being from the outside, I am distraught at the meanness I displayed. I can’t imagine saying the things that I was saying to myself to anybody else! I would NEVER treat a little girl, whether she was struggling through trauma or not, but especially if she was, the way that I treated that little girl who was me. Loving yourself does not mean what I thought it meant. I can love myself without thinking I am better than those around me. My pain and heartache does not mean less because another person experienced pain and heartache too, whether it was caused by something similar or something completely different. I had thought somehow, that because it was “just me,” my opinions and feelings were invalid. One of my friends told me that standing up for myself over “small” things can be just as important as “big” things are to others and that sometimes I have the right to assert myself, even though I may inconvenience others. I have had a fear of allowing others to love and comfort me because I did not want to be a bother, I wasn’t worth the effort, I think I actually I thought I was a bother just by existing. I’m beginning to realize, as I see myself from a new viewpoint, I am someone of value. I can let others comfort me and, even if that might be irritating to them, I deserve to be cared about just as much as every other person. I could and should show the same kind of compassion toward myself that I would expect giving to others.  

I’m not nearly perfect at it by any means, but now, when I think of that little girl, who was me, who was mocked, humiliated, hurt and used, instead of shunning her, turning away from her, and fighting to be someone else, I want to make an effort to embrace her and recognize who she is. When I feel anxiety over discussing intimacy and sexual purity with my preteen, I will try to embrace that woman, who is me, and speak positive words of comfort to her instead of hating her and shoving her down. Now, when I find myself struggling, still, with sexual anxieties and flashbacks in my marriage, I try to comfort that woman, who is me, instead of ridiculing her and questioning her insecurities. When I fret before every doctor visit and/or cry afterward, instead of telling myself how stupid I am, I imagine that woman, who is me, as someone’s daughter, someone’s sister, someone’s friend, another child of God who is in need of a gentle, loving voice, and I try to be that voice for myself. If I’m more understanding and kind to that woman, who is me, how much more understanding and loving toward all other women and people will I be?

As I learn more about myself and build my own confidence, I feel more empowered to connect with others, growing in love toward them and drawing strength from their experiences instead of comparing them to mine. I find that as I recognize the beautiful person that I am, I have greater strength to lift others and my happiness grows deeper and longer-lasting because, not only will I be more able to help, I will be happy even in the company of my own self, whose company I will never be rid of. My hope is that everyone who reads this will make a greater effort to love herself. Be Kind to YOU! You deserve the same kindness that you show toward other people, and you are worthy of compassion, from yourself, others, and from God.