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Lack of confidence sometimes goes deeper than the surface

Back in the day I didn't smile in pictures. When I smiled, I always did this carefully to prevent my mouth from opening sideways, like the picture below. I hated that this happened and often didn't feel beautiful. That's why I never took pictures smiling. I could hide the fact that I had trouble with everyday things in life. But once a picture with a 'weird mouth' was taken, it was visible that something was wrong with me. I couldn’t hide that. What will people think when they see something like this? " What's wrong with her? Can't she smile normally?" I wondered why I wasn't beautiful when I smiled. " Nobody smiles like me. I'm different. Why am I like this?" Every moment I smiled for a photo or in everyday life I was reminded of the fact that I don't have a nice smile like everyone, and that thought led to the thought that I wasn’t beautiful enough and that something was wrong with me. I was so concerned with what I looked like and I didn't realize it at that moment that the problem was laying somewhere else entirely.

"You definitely ate sloppy again, Mena. Why are you like this?"

Feelings of insecurity sometimes go deeper than the surface. Due to brain injury at birth my body doesn't always function as it should. Because if this, I'm slightly paralyzed on my right side, where mainly my right hand does not function properly. I did a lot of Simple activities or everyday things with one hand, like knotting my coat, and this sometimes looked strange to others. My smile is also different because if it. I felt extremely insecure. I felt insecure about everything in life, because of my 'invisible disorder': cerebral palsy. I couldn't do anything right in my eyes, not at school, not at home, not with friends. I felt like I had no control over my life. What I could control was my appearance. By focusing on my appearance, I tried to increase my sense of self-worth. I had to look perfect, I had to wear the latest fashion, my hair and makeup had to be perfect and otherwise I didn't go out of my house. It's better to arrive late, than to arrive ugly, right? When I felt ugly, it had a negative effect on my day; I was only busy with what others thought about me. If someone looked at me, I thought something was wrong with me. Ran to the mirror to make sure I looked normal. Maybe there was a crumb stuck to my face or lips? After all, I didn't feel that. " You definitely ate sloppy again, Mena. Why are you like this?"

It took a lot of energy to get through the day, which I didn't always have because of my ' invisible disorder '. I was too strict for myself. It was very tiring. Not only because I got up unnecessarily early to get ready for my day, or how much pressure I put on myself to look perfect, no not that. It was mostly tiring because I was so busy with something that didn't help make me feel better. I connected my appearance to my self-confidence and self-worth. This made sure the feeling of control was unstable, because it is impossible to always look perfect and do everything perfectly. I was done with it.

I had to dig deeper than the surface if I wanted to understand what was going on. While digging I discovered that my insecurities came from fear. Fear that I wasn't good enough in different aspects of my life; not smart enough, not social enough, not attractive enough, not active enough, not kind enough, not religious enough. When something didn't work out, it confirmed that I wasn't good enough. This could be something simple as, my eyeliner that I just couldn’t draw right to failing for an exam. These are two very different situations would lead to exactly the same negative thoughts and feelings. It all sounds very dramatic that you can feel so bad about yourself because of superficial subjects. These situations weren't the reason of my negative thoughts and feelings either. The lack of understanding myself, why things didn't do the way I wanted, like any other person, that was the reason for my frustration, negative thoughts and feelings. These situations only started the negative thoughts, and in turn, lead to negative feelings and frustration.

To feel bad because of something like this is very unhealthy. Something had to change. Awareness is the first step towards change. That first step is always the hardest, but once you take that first step, you might also get the courage to take the second one. And you might reach your core. There's nothing wrong with feeling beautiful when wearing something you like or when your hair looks good. But when this affects how you feel on a day, it's good to dig further until you find the core. I still love fashion but if I can't look fashionably, it's not a disaster anymore. Self-acceptance is something I've been struggling with for a long time. Only when I learned more about myself, with disorders and all, only then I learned to understand and accept that how I was born is what makes me different from others. But being different is not necessarily negative, this is what makes you YOU: it makes you unique.

To begin the journey of change we must start by putting on the boots of self-awareness.

PS. These are experiences from years ago and I absolutely don't feel like that anymore. It's not meant to receive compliments. Whoever follows me knows that I write about the inner struggles & psychological issues you may experience. All that I share has been part of my personal development and growth as a person. My personal growth made it possible for me to work on my professional skills. I learned to accept myself for who I am, to embrace my flaws and turn them into my strength. I started the study with a lot of stress and pressure, from not only my environment but also by myself. In time, I had to learn that I have a manual and that my disorders, cerebral palsy, AD(H)D, insomnia & dysthymia, have had a bigger effect on my life than that I wanted to admit or wanted to accept. When I started to accept myself for who I am, I finally grew as a professional and especially as a human. We humans keep growing through new experiences and hardship. I wanted to share this with you, so it may be helpful to someone going through this <3


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