A woman in her 20s will always have some battles to fight, and modern times seem to have made a lot of things easier for us.
Growing up, however, was not one of them.
With the media dictating the definition of beauty, it is natural to feel a little bit lost, and loving yourself can be quite a challenge.
I look back on the first years of my 20s with mixed emotions.
My curious mind was eager to discover the big, wide world all on its own, but at the same time, it was paralyzed by the fear of not being able to survive independently.
For four years, I found myself stuck on a chronically bipolar roller coaster of crazy highs and deep lows.
I was dating all the wrong men for all the wrong reasons. I began drinking my hangovers away to numb the deep aches in my soul. I was crying for attention and acceptance.
I was following self-caused drama in order to feel alive again. It was a self-destructive road.
The problem is, I was aiming for self-love and inner peace.
I was wasting my energy on hiding imperfections. I was too exhausted to take care of myself and my body.
Therefore, I did not love myself.
My transgender friend was fighting her own battle: the battle of being born inside a body that didn't match her soul.
She was a woman at heart, but her anatomy had the world believe she was the opposite sex.
She is now on hormonal treatment, and though the changes are becoming more visible, it's going to be a long journey until she is physically, completely a woman.
She deals with a lot of negative attention, rejection from her family members and discrimination.
The world is nowhere near equal for transgender people. But, she is continuing to fight because she know she's worthy.
Meanwhile, I would hate myself for weighing one pound more than I wanted. I was bringing myself down.
My friend has always had her focus set on female beauty. Her perspective toward women is genuinely positive, not vicious.
While I continued to sabotage a body she dreamed of being born with, she lectured me on how to nurture this great privilege. She taught me how to fall in love with myself again.
It took over a year, but I finally fell in love with myself.
It might sound clichéd, but by loving myself, I was finally capable of popping the egocentric bubble that was covering my feminine beauty all these years.
I often think about this conversation we had.
With unbrushed hair, gnawed nails and an oversized jumper covering myself up, I sat down next to my friend.
She was the epitome of femininity, with her French manicure, stylish outfit and hair as if she'd come straight from a salon.
As I clocked my double vodka and coke to once again deal with my inevitable hangover after a night of partying that resulted in unprotected, casual sex, my friend was enjoying a healthy juice, and she was pretty keen about her cozy night.
I felt like a worthless piece of sh*t next to her, and it showed.
So, she started preaching:
You are a nightmare. You have everything it takes to have the world at your feet, but you refuse to maintain the treasure of the female body. I may still have a penis for the time being. I may physically be in-between a man and a woman, but my mind is already a full-grown, confident lady. Even though my body is so much further away from this social concept of perfection, I love it. Unlike you. On the inside, you're still a lost little girl. Yes, you may be pretty. But that shell is going to age. If you don't start taking proper care of yourself, your beauty will vanish, and nobody will be interested in an expired cover that used to be hot. Stop with this hunt for the temporary admiration of men. It keeps you from evolving into a true, beautiful woman. You will never experience real power if you can't let go of what is out of reach and don't start taking control of yourself.
I felt slightly offended because she hit a chord. I hushed while she continued.
She explained to me how, even though her body was in-between, it was her body and she adored it.
She cherished herself and didn't need a man to feel admiration.
She told me to stop going out, looking for thrills and seeking acknowledgement. Stay in and discover yourself.
Take your time, and make an effort.
Look at your hands and decide to make those hands the most beautiful hands in the world. Polish your nails.
Don’t drink that sh*t. Be aware that what you put in your mouth will push you forward.
Don’t intoxicate your temple.
Don’t rip your hair out with impatience while brushing. It is worthy of the time to be brushed properly.
Cherish your body the way you want it to be cherished by a man.
Enjoy yourself in the mirror and don’t hide your curves with oversized clothing. Embrace them.
Simply use the energy you have on yourself first. The rest will follow.
Life can be great, but you have to make an effort.