Finding Real

The summer before eighth grade brought immense changes to my personality, as if I had suddenly been hit by a truck. It all hit me at once. As I gazed at myself in the mirror, I felt physically sick to my stomach because I did not like the person I was, or who I was becoming,
I had spent the first years of middle school trying so hard to fit in. I wanted to feel accepted by the people around me, as if popularity would somehow make me feel better about myself. This meant texting people rude things in order to maintain my high pedestal of self-worth. This meant making friends with girls who only cared about their hair and boys and talking bad about other girls. I was so blind to what I really wanted out of life, but in fact, I was just a horrible mess of trying hard to be someone I was not.
I had let myself become someone I never wanted to be, someone I would have avoided if I came into contact with her today. I saw the ghost of a girl I used to know, but she had disappeared and morphed into something so impeccably rude, almost disgusting. I had become too obsessed with the way I looked, rather than the way I behaved towards others. As long as I could accept what was staring back at me in the mirror, I felt whole. At least, I thought I did. But after empty nights of feeling hollow, I had finally come to the conclusion that I was never truly happy at all.
I used to chase perfection, the kind you find in magazines. I desperately wanted to feel pretty, for someone to look at me like they looked at those popular, beautiful girls at school. I wanted to be adored. I had endless dreams of being around so many people who wanted to be me, who loved me, to the point where I couldn’t even find the energy to love myself in return.
I stopped chasing perfection. I knew that I was a mess of imperfect flaws that could never be fixed, but I figured that it was okay. I knew that I would never be prettier than anyone else but myself, and it was about time that I learned how to accept that.
And I did. I began to write again, after two years of pretending that I hated it just to satisfy the sensation of being like everyone else. Somewhere underneath the monster I had created within myself was still a quiet girl who loved everyone. I had built up so many walls around the person I once was and the person I had become, but I decided to knock them down.
After searching for a while, I found her. It took time, and it was nowhere close to easy. There were times when I wasn’t sure whether or not to be the girl who trash-talked, cheated her friends, and spread lies that everyone would believe, or the girl who wanted to make everyone happy. It became clear to me, that happy was all I was searching for the whole time. It was time to follow my heart instead of what was cool.
I made friends with people who loved me for my spark of insanity, people who wanted to be friends with me rather than people who were just concerned in belonging to a crowd. I stopped dressing for other people. I dressed for myself. I stopped telling people how much I hated them. I began to dedicate my time to tell them the reasons why they meant the world to me.
“Nothing good has ever come out of being mean.” When I think of how empty I used to feel, I regret never following my mother’s advice, the same advice she had been telling me even when I was too young to understand it. But I do now, and now I live by those words. I think of how sad I used to feel, and noticed that everyone on the planet has something that makes them cripplingly sad, and now I have the overwhelming urge to help them. I think of the times I felt worthless and insecure, and now I love for that version of me.
I am her. I will always be her. And I love her, no matter how messed up and psycho and imperfect she is, I love being her. In a twisted way, she is perfect- not because of the amount of Instagram likes she gets and what sits on her skin, instead, she is perfect because she is real.

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