I am writing to you as someone who is finally comfortable in her own skin.
It has been a long and difficult journey.
From what I’ve been told (and what I remember) I was a precocious little girl, with a vivid imagination and a flair for the dramatic. But as a little girl and teenager, I also experienced verbal and emotional abuse. At home, my father constantly put me down. At school, my classmates bullied me.
I suppose I was an easy target. I was always a little bit overweight. I had eczema and asthma. I wore a patch and/or glasses to correct my “lazy” eyes. I wasn’t athletic. I wasn’t stupid, but I was never the smartest kid in class. I wasn’t a gifted musician or a dancer or an artist… The things that seemed to come so easily to other kids were always harder for me
I lacked self-confidence and experienced low self-esteem. I was afraid of being laughed at and I was afraid to fail. I am sure some of you can relate.
In high school, things finally changed for the better. A teacher helped me discover a hidden talent. I discovered that I could write. My confidence blossomed. But it was fragile. And I was still young.
In the ensuing years came the joys and sorrows of college, college romance, entry into “the real world,” engagement, marriage and divorce. At 30, I moved back “home” to recover from the bitter blow that ended my marriage to the man I planned on being with forever. At 34, I moved to Virginia for a new job and a much-needed change of scenery.
Alone in a new place, I made my share of mistakes. I trusted the wrong people. I misjudged alleged friends. After eight-and-a-half years, I lost my job. But by the time I returned home for the second time, I’d written a book — and I’d found myself.
Today I am hardly perfect. But I am happy being me. Finally.
And if there’s anything I hope you can learn from my story, it is the following:
- Each of you is unique.
- Each of you matters.
- Each of you deserves to be loved.
- Each of you deserves respect.
- Each of you has something meaningful to share with the rest of the world.
Ultimately your worth is defined not by your physical appearance, but by the choices you make and the values you hold. You can allow others to govern your emotions, or you can take control of them yourself. You can live up to other people’s expectations or set your own. You can measure your beauty by “conventional” and societal standards, or ignore them and live by your own. You can measure your success by your material possessions or by the difference you’ve made. You can let the world beat you down. Or you can summon the courage to hold your head up high. No matter what.
It’s all up to you.
Author’s note: The preceding was written in response to recent news accounts about U.S. presidential candidate Donald J. Trump’s lewd, sexist and misogynist comments caught on tape in 2005.