“I am not my past”

“Scars remind us of where we’ve been; they don’t have to dictate where we’re going.”

Despite the growing acceptance of diversity within today’s society, there are still certain ‘standards’ that we (members of society) are expected to uphold. If we do not fit perfectly into these ‘standards’, we are viewed as ‘different’, ‘odd’, or even ‘weird’, and are subject to judgment or bullying. During my high school years, I did my very best to be a ‘normal’ high school student. I was in AP classes, I received good grades, I did varsity sports all four years, I was very social, and I did my best to be a great role model for my younger brother. I worked hard for these achievements, and sometimes I worked myself down to the bone. I felt as though I was under a lot of pressure; pressure I was unable and unsure of how to deal with.

Though high standards were held for me by my family, teachers, or coaches, the most pressure to do well came from myself. It’s no secret that everyone is their own harshest critic in life. But nobody is perfect, not even those who seem to be perfect. Growing up, I would always compare myself to people I saw on television, people I saw on the news, or even people I surrounded myself with, and I would wonder—why can’t I be perfect like them? Why can’t I be that skinny? That talented? That smart? Of course I know now how much damage these types of unrealistic comparisons can cause. But as a young high school student, I had no clue how harmful they really were. I constantly had negative thoughts about myself. I asked myself why I wasn’t good enough and I did everything I could to be as smart, and as skinny as possible.

When people started noticing the cuts and scars on my arm, some would give me skeptical looks. Some would ignore them. And some people would confront me. But it was, and sometimes still is, a scary and personal topic. Thankfully though, those years are long gone. I am four years past the last time I even had any thoughts of self-harm, and I grow stronger and further past who I was back then every day. Yes, those scars are real, and I will have them forever. I know I’ve made my share of mistakes, but the important thing is that I’ve grown from them–and I continue to grow each day.