Words cannot do justice to the pain that comes from truly hating oneself.

Words cannot do justice to the pain that comes from truly hating oneself.

For the better part of my late adolescent years, I wished to be anyone but myself. I wanted to crawl out of my skin and into that of someone else.

This self-hatred caused me to endlessly compare myself to others. I was jealous of everyone.

Why couldn’t I be as pretty as her?

How come she was doing better in school than me?

What is the reason she got the leadership position and I didn’t?

I spent my days ruminating over everything that I assumed was wrong with me and, come to find out, I missed chances to work on bettering myself and becoming someone whom I liked.

It was my junior year of college when I found myself in a moment of panic and in the office of one of my mentors. I was rambling on about something that had to do with my future and how everyone else seemed to know what they wanted except me.

She stopped me and said, “To compare is to despair.” To this day, that sentence is engraved on the inside of my forehead and I always remember it when I am feeling especially uncomfortable with myself. It’s just a waste of time, energy, and effort to compare myself to others.

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Oftentimes, what I am comparing myself to is not even real because people rarely show the flawed parts of themselves to others. Wasting effort on comparing myself just ended up hurting me in the end.

I have no idea where my self-contempt came from. All I know is that from a young age, I knew I was different from the other kids.

I forced myself to believe that I was not enough. That in order to be somebody likable, I had to change.

In the past few years as I have traveled through my early adulthood, however, I have gone on a journey of self-discovery. Through various formative experiences, I have struggled to the realization that I am enough. I am worthy of this life, and everything that has and will come with it.

This does not mean that every day is easy. I still hesitate to feel enough sometimes. At my core, though, I have worked hard to know that I am strong, capable, and lovable.

At the end of the day, people are people. We will never be exactly what the world expects from us because that is impossible.

We hurt others in the same ways that they hurt us.

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We disappoint and are disappointed.

We hate and are hated.

We curse and are cursed at.

There’s no getting around it. Instead of fighting the inevitable, we need to work toward being our true selves and not caring what the world thinks about it. Nobody else can make us trust that we are enough. That is a quest that each individual must partake in on their own.

I still have moments when I find myself comparing. Recently, I have started a new sort of comparison that does not stem from jealousy, but rather envy. I’m not entirely sure yet which kind of comparison is worse, but I have found myself wanting to embody the lives of other people because I assume that theirs are so much more beautiful than mine.

When I told one of my friends about these thoughts, she responded by saying that if we could be who our role models are, then we would not have the gift of their presence in our lives and we would miss out that way. There is something profound in that statement. I would rather know them, look up to them, and try to emulate their qualities as best as possible but still get to enjoy their company.

I can be me, as well as be surrounded by a community of people who build me up and challenge me to be better, without sacrificing my worth.

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I am stuck with me forever. There’s no switching places or getting a new life.

Sure, I can go different directions and push myself to become who I strive to be but at the end of the day, I’m still me.

I have finally been able to love and embrace this truth, but I battled internally with myself for years to get here. I lived a very unhealthy lifestyle trying to be who others wanted me to be and I am proud that I was able to turn things around.

If you find yourself struggling with who you are, know that this life is a process and, at the heart of it, you are not fighting against anyone but yourself.

If you believe that you are worth it, you will be able to live an empowering and fulfilling life which is, what I believe, all twenty-somethings should be striving for in our present-day world of hatred, turmoil, and unhealthy comparison.

Discussion: What’s your response to how we all compare ourselves to others?