The Girl That Stares Back at me in the Mirror
Stop focusing on what you’re lacking. It’s not healthy for your self-esteem.
I was born and raised in Phnom Penh, Cambodia – a place where girls are skinny and small. Ever since I could remember, people would tease me for being fat and call me fat.
Yes, you read it right, people would call me fat to my face, including friends and family. They laughed about it. They made fun of me.
They didn’t mean any harm. They were just teasing because they thought it was funny. But they didn’t realize that their words have stuck with me, and I don’t think they will ever leave.
I never felt beautiful.
I didn’t love me.
I even went as far as hating myself.
Words are powerful and the moment you let them get to you; it’s a freefall. It still goes on until this day, but I think I handle it better now.
When my mother said to me, “you look so beautiful” while caressing my face and tucking my loose hair behind my ear, I thought she was lying. “She was only saying that because she is my mother” I’d think. She was obligated to tell me that, but she didn’t believe what she said. That was what I truly believed in. Over the years I have been unable to run away from this trap – when people paid me a compliment, I believed they were just being polite and didn’t mean what they were saying. When people insulted me or made fun of me, I would believe what they were saying to be true. The fatal double standard.
Let me tell you, the life lived in this horrible vicious cycle is painful and so very lonely.
What made it worse is that I tend to keep it all to myself.
Even my closest friends wouldn’t know how insecure I am or how horrible my self-esteem is.
I never believed someone could love me because I felt hideous.
I’ve been so focused on what is lacking in my life. The look and the beautiful body. I thought I needed those things to live a happy life and for people to love me. When I was younger I was consumed by it. I never thought anyone ever loved me and in the back of my mind, I would almost always expect people to make fun of me. I lived a life thinking that I lack love because my gal friends are in relationship and some of them are married (marrying at a younger age is common here.) Due to the lack of attention from men, I felt invisible and unattractive in the shadow of my attractive and thin friends. I was wishing for men to pay some attention to me. That would validate my self-worth, I thought.
But one fine day, I realized that….
My life is full of so much love and I overlook it all, trying to seek something else. I’m surrounded by friends who are concerned about me, who care and who love me. But I still claim that I don’t know what being loved feels like.
My father, my mother, and my brothers shower me with love and I still say I don’t know what love feels like.
I know exactly what love feels like. I’m loved in abundance every time I meet those loving individuals. They are worried about me, yet I still wish for someone to be worried about me when things aren’t that great. My best friend gives me her time and yet I still wish for someone to have me as a first choice. This is just ridiculous. I have people who try to make me laugh and cheer me up when I’m feeling down, but I discount that because I was convinced that I was not loved by a man.
I keep discounting what really matters and what is real in my life. I dream of a romantic love and wish for it because that would validate my being. I would think, “if a man loves me, I would be able to love myself and my self-esteem would improve”. I keep focusing on it, feeling that I am missing an important part of my life because I’m too caught up with what I’m lacking. I am not lacking love, no. But I focus on the one thing that isn’t there and I feel like my life is so miserable and that I don’t matter to anyone. But I forgot about those loving friends and family who have always cared and loved me. I discount their love. When I realize it, I am mad at myself for being so stupid.
One day when I was looking at myself in the mirror, I remember feeling the warmth rising to my chest, I remember liking that feeling very much.
I smiled at what I saw in the mirror, it was the first time in my life that I like what I saw – that girl that stares back at me. It feels great.
I am now focusing my energy on improving myself to be the best version of me. I take care of myself because I care about myself. I was looking outward to validate my worth; but now I know self-worth comes from within and no one can tell you otherwise.
Focus inwards and embrace the essence of who you are.
Right now, I am just enjoying exploring the person that I am. Getting to know myself. I change what I can and make peace with what I can’t.
I stopped being a bully to myself.
I saykind words to myself. I do not neglect myself. The same life I’m living, but with a shift in focus, I think I’m moving forward in the right direction.
Life isn’t about focusing on the lacking. Everyone’s lacking something.
But if we focus on what we have, we would be less miserable in life, no?
I’m happier now than I have ever been.