To All The Girls Who Grew Up Feeling Awkward: You Are Beautiful / Leonardo Patrizi / Leonardo Patrizi

I never actually have thought of myself as a “pretty girl,” and growing up was even harder with three effortlessly beautiful older sisters, making me always feel like the odd child out. My awkward phase was also not the endearing kind that people giggle about, but the kind that makes you want to burn all evidence of it. I was disproportionately chunky and short, with frizzy mouse-colored hair that stuck out in a ponytail with loose baby hairs to make little “devil horns” as people liked to call them, and wore ill-fitting denim skirts revealing thin, pale, bruised legs.

Thankfully, puberty was in my favor and I lost the weight, learned how to tame my crazy hair, and use makeup. That awkward little girl is still there though under the makeup and hairspray at the end of the day, holding her breath as if her new appearance is only temporary.

I have never actually been able to let go of this girl that people used to look past or make fun of. The girl whose mom was even exhausted from trying to find pants to fit her, whose sisters were tired of trying to help her wear makeup properly. She blended into the walls of her schools, watching the other girls get dates almost flawlessly, and laugh like they didn’t have a care in the world. This girl went home at the end of the day and stared into the mirror, wishing she didn’t look the way she did and feeling like there is someone so much more beautiful trapped on the inside of this ugly shell.

Even when you do break through the shell that you learned to hate, you still carry all of those insecurities with you. You’re still left to battle with all of your old beliefs about yourself and try to forget all of those words people called you, leaving you with scars, deeply carved into your skin like a bad tattoo that you’re ashamed to show anyone. Today I still struggle with the idea that people find me attractive, I feel like I’ve conned people into thinking I’m pretty, and that I’m just wearing a mask.

I’m still surprised when guys try to talk to me, it’s like going downstairs and missing a step, your heart always skips a beat and you miss a breath for a moment. I look in the mirror and wonder if people actually do mean it when they say I’m pretty, or if they just feel bad for me because they can tell I’m still trying to make myself believe it.

Out of all of this though, I’ve come to the realization that out of everyone who called me gross, or short, or weird; I was my worst enemy the entire time. I tore myself apart, and never tried to actually love myself the way I was when nobody else would. I might have actually been the worst offender of all in fact. I could have very easily found a way to feel better about myself, even if it meant staying the same, but just trying to see myself in a different light.

So, to all of the girls out there reading this, please be good to yourself, no matter how you feel or what you see.

Those years of wishing you were someone else, or staring at yourself in the mirror wondering why you’re you, please stop. It does more harm than good, and though maybe you do get your wish, you’re still left with a curse. People can tell you what they want about you, or how they see you, but it’s really up to you at the end of the day to decide if you actually take it to heart. My advice to you is if it isn’t anything nice, forget you ever heard it, and don’t add weight to your already heavy heart. You’re beautiful by embracing who you are and being happy with it. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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