One of my passions in life is impacting the lives of young girls before they start making the mistakes that plague grown women today. Our culture sends youth aged/teenage girls a lot of mixed signals that can be destructive to their development. Personally, as a preteen of 11 years old, my desire to be desired was overpowering every other aspect of my life. I wanted nothing more than to look like Cindy Crawford or Tyra Banks (curvy, tall, boobs out to here, tiny waist, flawless skin, the whole shebang). I languished about my short and waif like figure (I was about 75 pounds from 10-12 years old at almost 5 foot tall). I fretted about my dark skin, my short hair, and anything else I could pick on. This made me extra sensitive to how others perceived me. Whether they were compliments or insults, I drank in the opinion of others like rain on a thirsty ground. When someone complimented any part of me, I would begin to vigilantly accentuate it. When someone made a disparaging comment about any part of me, I fell to pieces, often spending hours or days in tears (especially if it was something I couldn’t change. Example – “You are so dark! I bet when you get a tan you turn purple!”).
This lack of self-esteem and self-assurance caused me to engage in reckless activities to feed my ego. I encouraged boys my age and even those out of my age group (i.e. – the 18 year old senior I dated when I was 13) to view me in a sexually appealing way by dressing provocatively and engaging in pre-sexual activities with guy friends. From this dangerous behavior came the emotional consequences of shame, guilt and feelings of worthlessness. Those feelings led to more destructive behavior in college as I upped the ante in an effort to be accepted (see “underage drinking, destructive social activities, questionable “friendships” with guys”). Eventually as an adult (over the age of 21) I decided to stop all of my self-destructive behavior. I also (wrongly) concluded that the acceptance I needed would come from experiencing a great love from a man who was worthy of me. I poured myself into one relationship after another in hopes that this one would be “the one”. All you have to do is look back at my posts from October 2005 to January 2006 to see how well that worked out.
With each new heartbreak, I changed for the worse. Convinced that my relationships were falling apart because I was somehow not good enough, I tried to be more to each new guy, giving up more and more of myself, my beliefs, my faith and my standards until I couldn’t recognize me anymore. Hindsight is 20/20 so I see clearly how the lies I believed as a teenager contributed to the mistakes I made as an adult. I want to save our young girls from the same heartbreak. Experience is an expensive teacher. A lot of women who traveled the same part that I took to get here don’t make it. They break along the way. I would hate for any young woman that I had the opportunity to help, mentor or teach to walk the same destructive path that I took. It’s not worth it to make your own mistakes when you can learn from others. I hope to impact the next generation by being transparent about my mistakes and generous with the lessons that I have learned and now live by.