Note to self
There are mornings when you wake up and do nothing but stare at your reflection for a few minutes. Not because you’re vain. It’s to make sure that you are still here. That you still recognize the girl in the mirror.
You are 12 years old, and feel like you don’t actually belong. Boys tease you because you’re this lanky kid who always gets called whenever there’s recitation in class.
The teachers tell you that you are smart and full of potential, but somehow you feel like these things are more of a liability than an asset. And so you stifle your voice and try your best not to do too well in class. You equate being smart to being bullied.
You are 15, and everybody’s talking about makeup and dating. Boys start to rate your attractiveness on a scale of 1 to 10, and you know you’ll never be billboard-pretty. You are not part of the cool crowd.
You do not date the hottest guy in school. You do not date anyone. Not because no one has actually asked you out, you just feel you’re not ready to become vulnerable. Also, you don’t really understand what they see in you.
You are 19, and you learn to embrace being smart. However, you still feel that you can do better. There are lots of things you want to try, but you feel insecure and lacking — and so you never do.
Somehow, falling for a guy who eventually ghosts on you doesn’t do anything to erase your insecurities. You are nearing graduation and you feel uneasy. Undecided. Incompetent. You don’t know if you’re ready to face reality outside the four walls of the classroom.
You are 23, and you experience heartbreak like you never did before. You feel ugly. You hit rock bottom in love and in career. You feel displaced. You retreat and start doubting every life choice you’ve made. You don’t think you will ever find love again.
For all of these, I want to apologize.
I’m sorry for letting them make you feel that you’re not good enough, that there’s something wrong with you. For propagating the idea that the skin you’re in is not the most attractive. For believing that intelligence is not sexy. For being hypercritical. For doubting your abilities.
I promise to never let these negative thoughts seep into your consciousness again. And if they do, I promise that, this time, you will have a stronger sense of self — that these things will not bother you as much as they used to.
Because you are made of hopes and dreams, fears and strengths, dark and light, passion and compassion. You are a force to be reckoned with. You are love.
Dear self, I want to apologize for all the times I have not loved you enough. We’re stuck together forever, and I want you to know that I like you. I really do. Your flawed, silly self is perfect. And lovable. I am sorry you thought otherwise.
Dear self, know that I accept you and I’ve forgiven you for feeling these things and believing them. You are real. You are beautiful. Never forget that.
I love you.
* * *
Frances Grace Damazo, 25, is learning to be comfortable in her own skin. She is a development worker and youth advocate, working under the 2030 Youth Force in the Philippines Inc., a youth network working collectively toward a high-quality life for all by 2030.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.