The Definition of Self-Worth: A True Story
I once knew a girl around the age of twelve, anxious to start middle school. A few weeks before the end of the summer her mom took her to the drugstore to pick out makeup. With much anticipation, she browsed through the store’s limited selection. The colorful and bold ads caught her attention drawing her away from the makeup. Catchy slogans, gorgeous models, and the latest trends filled the walls of the store and pages of the magazines. Excited to “Brush on a pretty face!” like one foundation ad declared, she picked out her makeup and went home to try her new face on.
A few weeks later, her mom took her to the mall to pick out new clothes for school. She tried on a large variety of tops and bottoms, and after a few hours of discouragement she thought to herself, “Shopping is hard, none of the clothes I like look good on me.” However, she was able to find a few outfits acceptable enough for middle school.
Seventh grade began and it was new and exciting. She easily made friends and loved wearing her new face and clothes to school everyday. For Christmas that year she got her first phone, a smartphone. Her older brother quickly introduced her to the popular app of Instagram, a platform designed to share pictures of people’s lives with their followers. As with all popular trends, she became enthusiastic to participate. Instagram soon became a competition for her. Who could gain the most followers, who could receive the most likes on a photo, and who had the most friends to comment on their photos. When she took first in these events, her life seemed justified. She seemed “happy”.
She spent countless hours analyzing and determining what type of pictures received the most attention. Mentally she noted how the most followed people at her school acted, dressed, and looked. “These are traits that make people like you” she thought. So she made the decision to change her life in order to imitate the lives of those she observed. She once tried to convince me she was scrolling her way to happiness, as if it were a place or a final destination. She told me that once you arrive at happiness, you never have to leave.
To her dismay, happiness was a lot farther away than she thought. Months had gone by with no change to her popularity or social status. Just as quickly as she was acclimating to the ways of society, pop culture’s newest and hottest trends would change. It was like watching Cinderella’s stepsisters try to squeeze their foot into a shoe that clearly did not fit. She had become clay in the hands of the world, constantly being molded and sculpted into something she was not.
She soon began to realize that her efforts were dismal. She was always one awkward step behind, which made her feel embarrassed. Her drugstore makeup and mediocre clothes fell far below from what she considered good enough. She fell far below from what she considered good enough.
She gradually became more introverted and was constantly terrified of what others may think of her. She kept to herself; that way, no one could form a negative opinion about her. She very much disliked being disliked. Her worth began to shatter into a million pieces and happiness seemed like a mere figure of her imagination. She believed that her life was no where near Instagram worthy and that it would never measure up to the high standards society set for her. The world looked down upon her and frowned.
Her much dreaded 15th birthday arrived.She had reasoned that because nobody loved her and because she was worth nothing, no one would show up to her party. And no one did. She began to cry in self pity and shame as embarrassment weighed her down unto the depths of sorrow. Luckily her Dad came to the rescue as he reassured her that she was loved and worth a great deal. He then asked the single most undesirable question, “Are you depressed?”
Was I depressed?
I don’t think I was ever clinically depressed. However, there was something very terrifying about the idea of being depression’s next victim. I was so close to a life of dejection and misery that I scared myself into change. Changing the way I acted, the way I viewed the world, and the way I viewed myself. And along the way I met a new girl. She doesn’t care that her makeup is from a cheap drugstore rather than high end makeup counters. She doesn’t care that her clothes are outdated rather than from the newest and trendiest stores. She speaks up instead of remaining hidden from other people’s judgements. She is a new breed of confidence that can not be stopped.
I deleted my instagram account a month after my 15th birthday. On that exact same day, the girl I had once known was gone. I don’t know exactly what happened to her. She vanished into thin air I guess. Sometimes I think I see her when I look into the mirror; when feelings of self doubt and insecurity creep into my mind. I’m grateful that I get to see her there. She is a symbol of my ugly past and represents the girl I use to be. She is my daily reminder of what I have overcome and all the opposition I can continue to overcome.
I now know a girl who taught me that happiness is not an unreachable destination, but instead a way of living. Happiness is knowing that you are loved, even when you tell yourself you are not. Happiness is knowing that you can be whoever you want to be, regardless of what the world or your peers may think. Happiness is knowing that you can still find ways to smile, even when the world has beaten you down. Happiness is knowing that self-worth is determined by one’s self.
I am worth how much I love and care. I am worth my intelligence, my strength, my loyalty, and my passions. I am worth my friend’s and family’s time. I am worthy of the happiness I desire. And because I know who I am, I am living in happiness; I am living with joy. Rather than depending on others to validate my self worth, I decided for myself who I was going to be. And that has made all the difference.
For more information on individuality, definitely check out this Ted Talk. It is amazing!!
© 2017 Katelyn LeSueur