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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Scranton chapter.

Dear HC girls,

I had a weirdly cathartic experience coming out of high school. After years spent in shame over my failed haircuts, I finally cut my ends, fell in love with my hair, got contact lenses, and my acne conveniently cleared up… all in time for graduation. I went from being ignored throughout the entirety of high school to being sought out by former classmates (one of the perks of going to university in the same area you went to high school.

I spent years resenting how I looked and feeling inferior in every way, to getting everything I wanted seemingly overnight (though I had spent two years hiding my hair as I grew it out). When things finally went my way, I thought I would let go of my insecurities, but the hard truth is that no physical change could alter the desolated relationship I had developed with my psyche.

I internalized the comments made on my appearance growing up, and I kept the dumpster fire going by feeding it the pages of an altered narrative I wrote about myself. No number of compliments, makeup, good hair days, or the words of my lovely friends could change the way I perceived myself. It took the loss of a relationship for me to realize that I had been holding my breath all my life, waiting for permission from some invisible entity to grant me self-acceptance.

No significant other will ever be able to fill my cup, and I will exhaust anyone who tries. Only I can set myself free.

This has been a long journey, but every day I work on reframing my inner dialogue and recognizing the beauty of my essence above all else. Recently I met someone very special, and it became blatantly obvious how my insecurities manifest in our interactions. So, I wrote a poem reflecting on my emotions, and I read it to him.

We are all insecure grown-up children just trying to do our best and learning each step of the way, as painful as it can be. But, we don’t have to shoulder the burden of our learned perspectives alone. Vulnerability is the key to healing and ushers in the welcome support of others. I want this relationship to last, so I choose honesty and love, even on the days when it’s heavy.

Don’t forget to be kind to yourselves ladies.

Sincerely yours,

Jamie Santiago

Orgullosa Afro-Latina at the University of Scranton who was born in Puerto Rico and grew up in Scranton. I am here to challenge, educate, and make you laugh all in one sitting. International-language Business & Philosophy Major "You've got to jump off cliffs and build your wings on the way down." -Ray Bradbury