Be Kind to the Person in the Mirror

If you met yourself as a child, what would you say?

A. Aud

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Photo by NEOSiAM 2020 from Pexels

As a toddler, I was extremely friendly and exuberant. I was goofy and entertained anyone that crossed my path, willingly or not. But growing up, I started becoming shy and reserved. Nothing wrong with it — as I later found out, I was a budding introvert.

Other children, however, never seemed too into it. I would be mocked for preferring to spend my breaks alone with a book and for being too quiet. I was smart enough to just coast through school, and that made it worse for me.

In my school, it was never the “dumb” kids — and I put that in quotes because I don’t really believe there is such a thing, but you know what I mean — that got laughed at and bullied. No, where I was, it was the bright kids that experienced the most harassment, and it just so happened that I was one of them.

I was bullied relentlessly for years since starting primary school. Puberty hitting me in an unfortunate way — I only started recovering after hitting age 20 — did not help.

Is it surprising, then, when I say that I have self-deprecated for as long as I remember? And not in a humorous way — that’s what I do nowadays — but in the sad, heartbreaking way, the way you would never want to hear your children talk about themselves.

I looked at myself in the mirror and told myself how ugly and worthless I was. There was no need to express it out loud — the voice I heard in my head sufficed to create lasting damage. Each day I watered the seed of self-hate a little more until I couldn’t remember ever feeling good about myself.

I realize that with the advent of social media, we don’t even need to be explicitly bullied by peers who are trying to put us into our place. Considering the endless stream of people who are smarter, prettier, richer, and simply more successful, I think most of us would be hard-pressed to find someone who never has thought of themselves in unfavorable terms.

But regardless of whether the starting point of our insecurities is direct, like bullying, or indirect, like external influences at large — it’s important to remember that many of the put-downs that we constantly experience have nothing to do with us…

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