We should start writing love letters to ourselves. If you know anything about me, you know that I have a strong desire to spread as much love throughout the world as possible (I also have a strong desire for gushers).
I spend so much time with my inner critic analyzing every single wrong thing I have ever said or misstep made. When I was little I was bullied for being overweight, weird, loud, etc. It took me a while to learn how to tell the difference between which smiles were genuine and ones that were sinister.
To some extent, I still feel like that past self. The one who thinks that one day people will come to their senses and realize that they don’t want to be friends with me. I know it is ridiculous to think that, but that is what insecurities are, ridiculous and without logic.
The inner critic that everyone has (I hope it’s not just me) causes insecurities. My inner critic is made up of every negative comment that I have been given but in my own voice. Fat, ugly, dumb, can you just stop talking? You’re so loud. Isn’t she just a doll?
If you struggle with your inner critic, might I suggest telling it to shut up? That usually works for me. However, some intrusive thoughts are a little harder to silence.
There should be a cheat code or something to get more confidence. Like up, up, down, down, left, right… but alas, it is not that easy. It takes active effort from oneself and the people that one surrounds oneself with.
I still look at old photos of myself and cringe. Let’s just say that puberty hit me like a truck and then drove back over me. The last photos that I have of my dad and I are when I was in middle school. I hope that I will eventually be able to look at them with love, but not yet.
Elementary Maddy began reading to forget the world of bullies and start imagining. I started puberty in the 4th grade with chubby cheeks, braces and a poorly cut bob that can be blamed on my mother and her frustration with lice.
Middle School Maddy, was only worse. I had two “friends” who were so embarrassed by me. They said things like “do you have to wear pajamas,” or “can’t you ever match your clothes,” or “sit on your hands and let’s see if you can talk without them.” It wasn’t until I found actual friends that I realized how toxic these two were.
After my dad died in the 7th grade, I emailed one of my teachers, who I idolized, that I would be absent for the following week. When I came back, a friend pulled me aside and said that the teacher “read my email aloud to the class.” Turns out that I was the hot gossip and almost the whole school knew. People, who bullied me for years, were looking at me with pity.
High school was my road to confidence. I started taking selfies which showed that in certain angles, I was pretty cute. My high school friend group made me realize that I could be loved and that my sarcasm was a personality trait, not a flaw. Any time that I would make a self-deprecating joke, they would hit my arm (and hard). So like Pavlov’s dog, I started retracting comments before I made them.
It was college when I began dressing better. I always had a sense of style but never chose to use it. From twirly dresses to high waisted pants, my confidence only grew. I made more friends who liked me for my quirks, not despite them. I still lost a few friends, which hurt, but I solidified the relationships that stayed with me.
Overall, school was pretty tough to learn how to love myself when I did not know who I was. My support group was constantly changing. It was as if every time I felt comfortable, something slipped out from under me.
Fun Fact about me: I hate change.
Now I work at the happiest place on earth where I am probably in hundreds upon hundreds of photos and videos. When I work at Storybook Land Canal Boats, I am a part of the attraction: my voice, face and gestures. In my previous job at Small World, there are thousands of guests who I interact with every day.
One of my friends took photos of me on her day off. I tried to smirk for the photo; my preferred smile. She hates when I smirk, so when she jokingly yelled at me, I laughed and gave a real smile. In the photo, I love how genuinely happy I look, but I still don’t like how I look when I am happy.
The other day, a friend showed me a photo of herself and insulted it. I was shocked. She looked so good! Even after I complimented it, she was still adamant. The other person who sat with us looked at me, and called it ironic that I thought the other was crazy for not feeling confident when examining the photo.
My Disney family is one that I would not change for the world.
I think in the end, it is okay if you don’t have self love just yet. Everyone will get their moment where they realize that those who matter know how amazing you are. They are only waiting for you to realize it.