On the night of the last day of seventh grade, I received a phone call.
I was at the prime of my life.
It was one day before summer vacation, and I was becoming more and more comfortable with the thought of becoming an eighth grader.
I was at a point in my life where all of my worries revolved around the thoughts of swimming, sunburns and no school.
On the other end of the line was not my best friend trying to sputter out a joke between giggles, or someone I knew congratulating me on my seventh grade achievements.
Instead, my ears were met with words of criticism and hate from girls who remained anonymous.
“What type of girl would dress like you did today?”
“Do you even care what you look like?”
“I can’t believe you’re OK with looking like this.”
I didn’t know what to do. My hands were sweaty as I ended the call and placed the phone back on the receiver.
I glanced around thinking that the hidden cameras would be displayed and that the game show host would come out of the coat closet and tell me that this was a prank. Unfortunately, I was wrong.
We live in a world where we compare, wish to change and want to be like others.
On Feb. 15, singer and songwriter Kesha released emails that were allegedly sent to her by her former producer, Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald, according to The Huffington Post.
Kesha then claimed that Gottwald had once told her through email that she wasn’t pretty, that she wasn’t talented and that she was just lucky to have him as a producer, according to The Daily Mail.
One in four girls from ages 11 to 17 are weighed down by pressure to conform to the ideal notion on how they should look, according to The Daily Mail.
Ninety percent of women want to change at least one aspect of their appearance, according to the Confidence Coalition.
Eighteen percent of adolescent boys are concerned about their bodies and their weight, according to The Huffington Post.
Eighty percent of men talk in ways that promote anxiety about their body image by referring to perceived flaws and imperfections, according to The Guardian.
There is a problem here, because not one person is born with low self-esteem. And yet, each person is placed under the pressure to conform, and to be unlike whom they really are.
The moment I placed the phone on the receiver nine years ago was the moment I forgot who I was.
For that split moment, I thought of how I looked in the eyes of someone else.
I had to have a shift in focus. I couldn’t let the words of someone who didn’t know my worth decide my thoughts and feelings.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make me feel inferior without my consent.”
I allowed these anonymous middle school girls to change what I thought about myself.
I had to learn to keep moving, and to always keep moving despite what others said and thought of me.
I had to learn how to view myself again.
I had to look at my strengths. I had to look at my worth. I had to look at myself as a child of God.
We can’t afford to be our own worst enemy. We can’t let others dictate who we really are.
We can’t conform to what others want us to be, because as easy as it may seem, we can’t look at ourselves through the eyes of someone else.