I grew up in an age of Disney princesses and feminism; an age where Snow White waited for her prince while the Cheetah Girls decided they needed to rescue themselves. I fantasized about being saved, yet I also wanted to be strong enough to save myself.
It was not until I was diagnosed with depression and bulimia that I needed saving. I searched for validation, acceptance, and support in friendships and relationships. More than anything, I craved love and reassurance that I deserved love.
I understand now that in order to be truly happy, I must accept myself rather than wait for others to accept me. With this realization came the understanding that I am the only person who controls my recovery. Although a support system is helpful, I ultimately am the one saving myself.
Last year, I thought I was ready for a relationship. I thought I needed another person to remind me that I was beautiful, intelligent, and that my past mistakes did not define me. This unfortunately, founded my relationship on unhealthy expectations. No matter how much my boyfriend reminded me he loved me, I felt unlovable. After months of fighting, we broke up. That was when I realized that the love I craved could not come from another person—it had to come from me. I am the person I spend the most time with; I am the one who is there when I wake up, go to school, eat, shower, laugh, cry, and sleep.
I started out slow—wearing more makeup and clothing that made me comfortable, but eventually I socialized more, voiced my opinion, laughed out loud, and loved myself even when I made mistakes. For the first time, I let people in and I let myself out.
For the first time, I am ready for another person to see me in my entirety. I am ready to be loved by someone; only my self-worth is not dependent on their love. I will love myself regardless of who loves me or hates me.