The road to self-love is one hell of a ride.
One thing that I have learned through my personal journey is that my self-love has to do with me and nobody else. Some people, even “friends," who only see the finish product may never know or understand the journey it took to get to a place where I love myself.
A few months ago, a friend of mine who I met through work invited me to come with her on a trip with two of her girlfriends. I was desperately wanting to get away so I jumped at the opportunity. However, three days into the trip, I had experienced a rude awakening where I came across a conversation on her phone as I was sending group photos from her phone to my number. My name popped up at the top of the screen from another co-worker (God's intervention) and I found a conversation where she was talking about me behind my back.
As I read the conversation, I felt my 24-year-old body flashback to middle school, a time where I often found myself in the middle of catty situations. Yet, this time I was dealing with a 28- and 31-year-old. Two women I somewhat looked up to at my job and spent happy hours over drinks and talking about life, love, and all in between. Two people I naively trusted and I felt blind-sighted by it all.
In the conversation, I saw a screenshot of a photo that I posted to my Instagram the day before of me in a bikini on the beach and under I saw mean comments like, “Killing me softly." As I continued to read the conversation, I instantly thought to hours earlier when I asked my friend to take a photo of me, she said in a snarky tone, “No, you have enough photos of yourself." I took her response as her sarcasm and did not think twice about it. Yet, at that moment I connected the dots and realized,
“Damn this girl is hating on me or hates the fact that I post selfies of myself? What? Isn't this what Instagram is for? Two, this girl that I consider a friend is smiling in my face, but talking about me behind my back while we're on vacation and sharing a room together!
I felt angry, hurt, and betrayed. At first, I did not want to confront her about it. Yet, I figured that if I didn't say anything, it probably eat me alive, cause me to act resentfully, and ruin my trip so I gathered the courage to pull her aside and tell her everything I saw and ask her what is going on. As I spoke I had to fight back tears because I felt vulnerable and hurt, especially being in another country, which was suppose to be a fun girl's trip. She ended up apologizing and spent the rest of the trip acting really nice to me, which part of me knew she was only acting this way because she had been caught. I don't believe in burning bridges so I decided to remain cordial and respectful, but I knew from then on that I could not trust her and had to distance myself.
Yet, the more I thought about it the situation, the more angry I felt internally. I wanted to scream:
“So what if I take selfies and post my model photos? So what if I think I am cute? Do you know how many years it took for me to get here? How much time it took for myself to look in the mirror and not hate myself. To actually be in this place where I am okay being me. I am happy being me. How dare you! How dare you talk shit about me! You don't know what I been through!"
Honestly she did not. I've spent majority of my childhood feeling insecure, never physically beautiful, or good enough. I was always made fun of for being tall, skinny, lanky and not having any of the features “black girls are suppose to have" (big booty and boobs) as seen on music videos and throughout the media. I had extremely low self esteem and man it took so much internal work for me to be here. To be in a place where I unapologetically love myself within and without. To not compare myself or want to be anyone else.
To understand that another woman's beauty does not take away from my own. At 24, I can honestly say that I love myself inside and out.
Yet, as I dove deeper into my thoughts and pass my ego trip, I heard Don Miguel Ruiz's words from the Four Agreements ring in my head, “Don't take anything personally."
[Tweet "Most of the things that people do to us have nothing to do with us, but more about them."]
Often we forget that most of the things that people do to us have nothing to do with us, but more about them. Your confidence, self-esteem, and happiness may cause other people to feel uncomfortable because they are not happy or confident in themselves. For all I know, my “friend" may be dealing with her own personal issues. Maybe both women are not happy with themselves. Whatever the reasons for their actions towards me, I probably will never know.
Yet nothing they can say or do will ever take away from this light of mine that I have found within myself. I have definitely learned a lesson about being more mindful about who I go on trips with and more importantly, watching who I call my friends, especially outside of my "day-one" circle of true friends.