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I came to a realization recently - I have never genuinely accepted myself or loved myself for the way that I am. It’s not that I entirely despise myself, just that I pretend that I am content with everything I am. This has been my mindset for as long as I can remember. It’s ironic, really; I have been ignoring the fact that I ignore any and all discomforts with myself or my life.


I don’t particularly like spending time looking at or even thinking about myself and I’ve realized it stems from me simply not wanting to spend the time or energy on myself. I think that I feel as though I am not worthy of that - not worthy of hating, loving, or feeling any emotion towards myself. This may seem sad, but I never even realized it was upsetting because I have been subconsciously thinking this way my whole life. 


I care deeply for other people, worrying about the wellbeing of others constantly, as well as putting myself in a position to provide them with happiness. I know this just sounds like how a friend is to another friend, but this is different. I make it almost like a job or task - anytime a person is around me - I will do everything in my power to keep the happy energy/vibes no matter how I am actually feeling. Having struggled with anxiety and depression for years, I do not always feel like the “happy, goofy, chill” person I portray, but often, I will not let my issues present themselves. I take it upon myself to act like a “hostess,” never letting conversations fizzle out or awkward moments to set in. I would rather repress any negative feelings, even though I know deep down that my friends/family are not expecting me to be perfect, and be a positive person all the time. 


Part of my profound realization I mentioned earlier is that I use this version of me, this embodiment of “toxic positivity,” in basically all parts of my life: how I present myself to others, how I act around others, how I view myself, and my mindset in general. I know positivity is incredibly important, and I am genuinely an optimistic person, but I need to learn that it is okay to not be okay. Let me repeat that louder for those in the back: IT IS OKAY TO NOT BE OKAY. Whether you are not okay about an aspect of your life, a physical part of yourself, or towards life in general, that is just fine. Everything doesn’t need to be perfect all the time, because realistically, life can be really shitty sometimes. 


Moral of the story: if you are like me, and just brush any negative thoughts or feelings away, stop. Seriously, stop. Humans are not supposed to repress sadness, guilt, anger, distaste. We are supposed to feel it all, no matter how much it hurts. Let it all out. 


I looked at a picture of myself recently, and I mean really looked at it. The girl looking back at me felt like a stranger. Her freckles, her eyes that can never decide whether they are green or blue, her crooked toothy smile, the scar on her eyelid where she ran into a tree branch on Easter Sunday while playing baseball with her family; I noticed that she didn’t always blend her eyeshadow very well. I even looked at her tiny ears that stick out just a little too much. The longer I looked at her, I wondered why I hadn’t spent this much time looking at her before. I looked at a few more pictures and started thinking even deeper. This girl is a weirdo who laughs at her own jokes too hard and too often. She constantly watches “The Office” or “Parks and Rec” to drown out the noise of her own thoughts, but at least she can quote them at inopportune times. She works hard and with a motivation like hers, her passions are bound to take her somewhere. She has a good taste in music, even if it is all over the place, and an odd sense of humor. She somehow overthinks everything but her own emotions. She can be incredibly annoying and ridiculously clumsy. She has lots of faults, but she seems like someone I would like to get to know better.


That being said, I am working on getting to know myself better. Listening to and allowing my feelings to present themselves; working on letting these feelings help control my life and my actions. It’s not easy by any means, but I am learning that it is really important. Try to embrace the physical, mental and emotional components that make you yourself. It is easy to care about how others perceive you, but at the end of the day, you are going to sleep and wake up with yourself, so you might as well find a way to look forward to seeing and listening to yourself each day. It’s not easy to love yourself and it is okay to need guidance. Whether this be from a trained professional or your own personal support system, do not feel like a burden if you need assistance or reassurance on your “journey of self-discovery.” The people you are close to in life should be more than happy to be there for you. 


I encourage you to work on loving yourself to the point of being able to confidently say the words of Leslie Knope: “I am a Goddess. A glorious female warrior.”

Ivy Bryan

Clemson '23

Ivy is a sophomore Animal and Veterinary Sciences major. She is a member of Clemson's Block and Bridle club, as well as Pre Vet Club, and is hoping to go to veterinary school after graduating. Ivy is also a member of Clemson's bluegrass ensemble, Tigertown Roots, where she plays mandolin.
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