Growing-up, I never thought I assessed my worth by outside affirmations, until my ninth grade English class. Assigned a seat next to the new boy in school, I wanted to make a good impression. No girls, it’s not because I thought he was cute. My parents had drilled the idea of always using good manners. Yet, from day one, this kid despised me.
After he called me a “know-it-all” under his breath for answering a teacher’s question, I never spoke again unless the teacher called on me. When he complained that I smelled, I brought extra deodorant to school and ran into the bathroom to re-apply before English class every day. When he wrinkled his nose and said my frizzy hair was getting all over his stuff, I began pulling my “frizzy” hair back into a ponytail before class. It didn’t matter what I did or said, nothing made this boy like me—or at least lower the level of disdain I saw whenever his eyes met mine.
One day, when I’d had enough. I caught him after class and asked, “What did I do to you? Why don’t you like me?”
He shook me off and said, “Look in the mirror—you’ll figure it out.”
I did figure it out—allowing this boy’s judgments to dictate to my actions was stupid. I can’t change who I am. This realization liberated me from the many snide remarks I heard from him in the years that followed.
Unfortunately, in this life, not everyone will like you. Sometimes personalities just don’t mesh. But the only person who really counts, is the one staring back to you in the mirror. When you choose to accept and love yourself as you are, nothing and no one can drag you down.