I’ve been thinking about this day for a while.
Not for the reason that today, May 2, has any particularly special meaning—in fact, it is quite literally just an average Sunday morning.
It’s just the day that, after serving as the Editorial Pages Editor of The Brown and White, I finally sit down to write my own Edit Desk.
While I may seem to be over-dramatizing the significance of this moment, it is actually quite meaningful to me as I’ve spent the past few months not only reading many of my amazing fellow editors’ Edit Desks, but also thinking about what in the hell I would write mine about.
In my head there were a few obvious options, and unsurprisingly, they were all related to our good friend COVID-19.
I could write 700 words yammering about my experience, trying to figure out how to be a college student amidst the pandemic, or how social distancing and forced forms of isolation pushed me to grow and mature into the person I am now.
But these options, I eventually came to realize after my months of brainstorming, seemed like an easy way out. And even more so, it seemed like I wouldn’t be doing myself justice.
It’s talking about the hard stuff is what this platform is for, and for me to feel like I did this assignment right, that’s what I have to do.
All throughout my life, I struggled with achieving self-confidence. Whether it be the way I looked, my academic ability or just the way that people viewed me as a person, I never felt like I was good enough.
It was a constant internal battle. In every single aspect of my life, with anything I did, I always judged myself for not doing it better.
As awful as I felt on the inside, I never made it presentable on the outside, which strangely enough only exacerbated my insecurities.
I have always been told how outgoing I am, how bubbly or how confident I am. People I know, or even strangers for that matter, would approach me to tell me these things, attempting to compliment me on my personality. I hated it more than anything.
Objectively, these are statements that most would love to hear said about them, but nothing made me angrier.
It was so difficult for me to hear these things because it was the exact opposite to how I felt about myself. It felt like I was lying to everybody about who I really was.
It made me conditioned to survive off of situational validation, which only threw me further down the hole of self-loathing. Those little moments where somewhere approaches you and says something nice mean nothing if you can’t feel that way about yourself too, and I most definitely did not.
I became dependent on how other people saw me. I was constantly trying to change myself so people would like me or think I’m attractive, and it was exhausting. It came to a point where if I didn’t receive those small moments of validation I felt as though I had failed.
I could look at myself in the mirror and just think what I did to deserve myself, wondering why I couldn’t have gotten better luck—why I couldn’t be the idealist image of exactly everything that I considered to be perfect.
From the get-go at Lehigh, I’ve always done well in school. I met an amazing group of people who are still my best friends and have experienced some of my happiest moments here. But it was never enough to actually make me feel smart, loved or happy.
Throughout my sophomore year, I struggled with an eating disorder.
My behaviors initially, like trying not to eat too much before going out so I’d look “good” in an outfit, were normalized living with 60 girls in a sorority house. Eventually it took the best of me. I lost complete control to the point where I didn’t know how to stop it.
I was terrified for myself because I had achieved what I wanted for so long, but felt worse than I ever had in the past.
It took being in quarantine, physically by myself, for me to get better. No eyes were on me anymore. Everything I was doing was finally for me, not curated based on the opinions of others.
Now here at the end of my junior year, I would be lying if I said that I felt absolutely confident 24/7, but I’m happy with who I am and no longer feel the need to be someone I’m not.
This year has shown me how important it is to surround yourself with the people that make you feel like you. The people that give you that warm feeling in your heart of love and appreciation just looking at them, because those are the people whose presence will make you love yourself for you.
For everything that I’ve been through, I wouldn’t go back and do it differently if I could. Surviving through hardship of any kind builds perspective and is integral to self-growth that helps you value the things that really matter.
Although it took me some time, I can confidently say I can do that now, and that is all the confidence I need.