When I was younger my nickname was Velcro- I always wanted to be near people. I was a little shadow to my mom especially, with countless home videos showing me tagging along behind her begging to be able to film or to be included. I remember as a kid all my siblings would be playing out in the fields behind my grandparents house while I was curled up inside on her lap watching game shows with her.
I found that growing up I often was searching for other people to be my safety and my security. Yet time and time again as they failed me, I still found myself rather then pushing them away doing the opposite. I would do everything in my control to “ stick to others” and to find acceptance- so much so that apart from other people I didn’t know who I was.
Three years ago I embarked on a journey with my counselor to unlearn some of these habits, so that I could grow my own roots. I’m not going to lie, it has been one of the harder things I’ve done – forcing myself to be honest with myself and to recognize my past for what it is not what I had made it out to be felt impossible most days. Learning to create boundaries in a world where none existed before is tiresome and often feels like no progress is being made.
I remember my counselor one day giving me the advice to not let go of the safe place within my heart- that if I could always remember that I was on my own team and I was worth fighting for I would make it through.
For me, that safe place was my faith. It was the love that I knew would never leave me; it was the courage that helped me to carry on when all I wanted to do was to give up. Slowly but surely that faith began to take deep roots, helping me to step into who I am meant to be.
This year as I turn 26, I took some time to reflect on my journey thus far and I found that I am finally at a place where I am confident in who I am regardless of who I am with. That I am not incomplete and without purpose unless I am surrounded by people. I no longer view myself as incomplete, inadequate or less then; rather I see myself as confident, beautiful and an overcomer.
My story hasn’t always been an easy one and my childhood was not conventional in most ways, but at the end of the day that doesn’t matter. What matters is what we do with what we have been given. And for me that is a commitment to be the best version of me, the one that I know this world needs. No more holding back.
I want to challenge you if you find yourself in the same shoes as I did to take a step forward in loving yourself first and in recognizing that the people around you don’t define you. You are capable of great things, regardless of your past. Put in the hard work. Go to counseling if you need to. Let go of unhealthy friendships. Find that safe place within yourself and never let it go.