and, from the outside looking in, you would be completely correct.
here's the thing though, there is so much more to a person than what they let most people see. humans have depth beyond what their instagram may show and they have scars that even the skiniest bikinis can't show. even though we don't always see those parts of people, i feel like those are the things that make us the most human and the most relatable. so, the purpose of this post today is to try and share some of my depth and some of my hidden scars with all of you, in the hopes that maybe it will help you realize that you aren't as alone as you may think.
i think every human on earth has insecurity. different insecurities come at different times depending on what we are experiencing or who we are around. but, for me, there has always been a consistent one; the fear of always being alone. even as a little girl i would sit down and watch disney princesses marry their prince and instead of saying "oh mommy i can't wait for that!" i would say "but mommy, will that ever happen for me?" as a teenager, i craved acceptance from boys because i figured if boys liked me than my fear of being alone my whole life was irrelevant right? well, it did quite the opposite. i feared i was never enough in a relationship and teenage angst caused people to make hurtful decisions that impacted me. i feared it was because i didn't look right or because i was broken inside. as a teenager i remember feeling the pain of hating myself and the way i was made. i saw myself as a decent person, but not a beautiful one.
fast forward a few years, the same insecurities haunted me as i went throughout life. i have always been very driven and naturally good at school and so i did a lot of things and accomplished a lot of goals that society has deemed as "great." but i still didn't love myself. i decided to serve a mission because i knew i loved God. i left a lot behind and went to the Philippines. i instantly fell in love with the people and the culture. everywhere i went people would stare at me in amazement at my white skin and "gold hair." they would tell me i was beautiful. they would hug and kiss me when they felt the spirit. they would thank me for bringing them the gospel. they told me i was good, and kind, and sweet. i had an immense and deep love for those people, a love i had never felt before, but i still didn't love myself.
i came home after 18 months of service to my friends and family. i came home to work and school and goals again. "real life" was a part of my daily routine. however, due to the dirty water and lack of nutrients in my mission i came home with some medical issues that resulted in a lot of my hair just completely falling out. this caused me a great amount of anxiety as i realized that, in the "real world", i was expected to look a certain way in order to date, and i no longer looked that way. so, to help me feel better about myself i put on some eyelash extensions. they looked amazing and helped me feel normal again. i clung to that security like fire clings to oxygen. but still, i didn't love myself.
i ran for miss lehi with a platform i believed in. i served, and i loved deeply again similar to how i felt as a missionary. i went back to school and found a few jobs. i continued old friendships, and made new ones. i connected with my family. i achieved some goals, and failed at others. i laughed, i cried. i experienced immense heartache along the way. just like everybody else, i was moving forward. but still, i didn't love myself.
now, here i am, 23 (almost 24) and just finally realizing the own blocks i have put in my path. when 2017 came i was depressed, anxious, heartbroken, and feeling very defeated. i didn't feel like i had the life that i had once pictured for myself and i was angry at the decisions of other people. i started to question my worth in God's eyes and what my life even meant. i sat down and opened up my scriptures in an act of desperation. i was looking for acceptance and answers. i started reading about nephi and his journeys when. like lifted fog, a thought popped into my head. a little voice started talking to me that said,
"Caitlin, you aren't unhappy right now because you're single. you aren't unhappy because of school. you aren't unhappy because your relationship failed. you aren't unhappy right now because God has abandoned you. you are unhappy right now because you haven't learned how to love yourself."
truer words have never been spoken to my mind. i instantly broke into tears in that very moment as the realization of my fears and anxieties hit me. i had spent so much time being afraid that i was always going to be alone, that i never actually took the time to wonder if i would like the person i was when i was alone. interesting. suddenly, lights clicked on, fog cleared, and the wall of depression was shattered. God had spoken to me, and i knew what i needed to do.
since that moment, i have made an effort to do the things that have always scared me, to conquer my insecurities. i took off the eyelash extensions as a statement to myself that i was good enough exactly the way i was (no hate to women who wear them. they are amazing, and i love them too. this was something i did for ME! that's all). i went out on a whim and started talking to boys who i thought were cute and ACTUALLY putting myself out there. i de-cluttered my room and brought color and sparkle back into my space. i began evaluating where i was in life and realized that there is no timeline and have been working to be happy for my friends that are married, rather than envy them. i have started stripping away all the things in my life that i cling to or cherish only because they make me feel pretty, or skinny, or safe. i just want to find those things that are naturally and unforgettably, me.
|me, the day i peeled my security blanket, lash extensions, off.|
to any people still reading this, here's my truth that i want to share with all of you. regardless of what you may think, of what society may tell you, or what your culture might make you believe, you are doing okay. and everything is going to be okay. i still have no idea if or when i will ever find a partner, but at least i can live with the comfort of knowing the fear of being alone doesn't dictate me anymore. loving ourselves first and learning the importance of having a sparkling inner vessel is of the utmost importance. i urge all of you that aren't making yourselves a priority, to do so. go get a haircut that makes you feel fabulous. turn off your phone and take a bubble bath while watching netflix. go eat an order of cheese fries without counting the calories. go do things for yourself just because those things make you happy. and while you're at it, ask yourself, "do i love myself?" then, find a way to make sure the answer to that question is "yes."
here's to self love and natural (inner) beauty. here's to seeing ourselves the way God sees us. here's to taking the time to do things that make us happy, so that we have the capacity to make others happy too. here's to learning how to love ourselves so fiercely that when others see us, they know exactly how it's done.