Be Yourself, Love Yourself
It was the year of turning into someone else. It was the year when people judged you based on how you look. It was the first year of secondary school for me in another country. My parents were divorced and about two years later my mother married an American whom she met in her workplace. We moved around the middle of the year to Los Angeles. It was an alien experience to me. I remember during the first step into my class, I was stunned to see everyone wearing branded clothing while I was wearing an ordinary looking sweater and jeans. Back in Malaysia, every girl was wearing the same school uniform, either the baju kurung or the pinafore.
I remember being friends with a group of girls who thought my sense of style was awful and changed it. At first, I was a bit proud of my new looks because people were starting to notice me and some boys even turned twice to look at me. I started to pay attention to how I look and what I said. I tried to change myself to become like one of the popular girls who seemed perfect in everything they do. I forced myself to smile everywhere I go although it makes my face hurt by the end of the day. I listened to music people around me like although it gives me headache. I never gave up though. I even exchanged my glasses to contact lenses and tried to ignore the uncomfortable feeling that goes with it. Although I thought I liked these things, I knew I wasn’t being true to myself.
One day, I was sitting by myself in the class. I had just gotten back my Algebra test paper with a big forty-two percent scrawled across the top. That was the worst grade I received in at least five years. I could not help the tears falling from my eyes. I was disappointed by myself. Back home, my mother found out about the test. She looked at me with sad eyes and said, “Let’s talk. Come and have a seat.” I moved slowly to the seat opposite her. “I noticed how much you’ve changed these past few months. The way you dress, the way you talk, the way you walk, all of them are completely unrecognizable. You focus too much attention on what other people think about you,” she said. “For someone who has gotten straight A’s the past years, you certainly don’t act like one.” I did not know what to respond. She was right. “What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked. “It means that you never act like yourself. Just stop caring about what other people think. Don’t try to change yourself; you’re just fine the way you are,” she said. She then went to her room. I could feel my mouth hanging open. I realised how right she was. It was time for me to listen to what I want, dress the way I want, and take control of myself regardless of what people think of me. I realized that if you are not happy with yourself, you are not going to be happy with anything else. I realized that I am not one of the popular girls, and most of all, I did not want to be them. I wanted to be myself, geeky as I might be.
So I took my mother’s advice and started to act like myself and I noticed that I was good enough. Finally, I thought.