Overcoming words and actions others say to us and are responsible for can be a very hard thing for many to do. One small phrase changed my outlook on how I viewed myself and society. In a moment of clarity I flashed back to a time when I started laughing hysterically in a restaurant while coloring a kiddie menu at the age of twenty and telling him, “Who cares, we will never see these people again,”and immediately wished that girl would be able to return one day stronger than ever before.

My first romantic encounter with a guy was, well, less than fulfilling. My best friend was dating a guy from the next town over, so automatically I started spending time with his friend when they came to town. Eventually this lead to my first kiss, and short term relationship. We dated for a very short time, no more than three weeks before parting ways. I had become to recognize he moved to fast for my 16 year old taste, especially since I was a virgin.

A few weeks later rumors were going around my town and his that he had taken my virginity and left me because “it was like making out with a bull dog.” I was mortified and already had low self esteem as it was. I started to become more reclusive and gave up on the thought of boys as I had never even had a date to a dance that I didn’t basically beg for as it was. My first love had moved away the year before and I pinned for him until I started dating my first boyfriend my senior year, but those mean words still haunt me to this day.

Maybe he was upset that I didn’t want to do the things he wanted me to do with him and lashed out? Maybe I really did kiss like a dog? Perhaps if I had done more, this never would have happened. While still a naive young person, I now realize how incredibly co-dependent I have been my entire life. I tried so hard to fix everything in my life, I think because I just wanted to fit in and always felt like I never quite did.

I have continued this trend throughout my life in college, the military, and in the employment sector. Trying to constantly fit in to situations where you can get by and go unnoticed are exhausting to keep up with and honestly stagnate you from growing in situations where you really need to grow the most. I was  constantly paranoid of others thoughts and social situations for years because I only wanted someone to accept and love me for who I was.

One day I read the most profound statement somewhere during an insomnia fueled night on social media that said something to the effect of what others think of you as being none of your business. I try to keep that in my head now when I go about my day and get discouraged or paranoid during my activities. It’s helped me to remember to be the carefree kid I was before I started worrying about how others perceived me more often than the hypersensitive paranoid emotional mess I have been all the years before. It gave me the strength to be able to tell my past and to rise above some of the shame and guilt I felt because of my experiences. After all the only person who can take away your worth and value is yourself, and the rest don’t really matter anyway.

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