Victory, not victim

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For what felt like most of my life, I blamed myself for being sexually abused. Maybe it was my fault that I didn’t stop him. Maybe it was my outfit that one day. Once, he called me ‘beautiful’, and instantly, I felt the opposite: disgusted and horrible. Because of my stepdad, for most of my high school years, I kept and cut my hair short because I wanted to look less feminine, in hopes that he wouldn’t come near me. Only in college was I able to grow my hair long.

I also blamed myself for my biological father for leaving my mother and I. As a result of these thoughts, in the back of my head, I questioned, “Am I inadequate? What did I do wrong?” As a kid, I would tell people my father passed away, but to be frank, I’ve no idea of his presence or his whereabouts. Of course, as a human, I am curious, but I’m not losing sleep over him or my stepdad, but I lay awake at night thinking about how they’ve made me feel.

The feeling of not ever being good enough – or even just enough – is an enormous insecurity of mine.

I used to ask, “Why?”
Why did my real dad leave me?
Why did my stepdad never leave me alone?
Now, I know why.

Life is a book that writes itself without reasoning, only meaning. There are hard lessons we will learn (even though we wish we could learn the lessons in another manner, in a fashion where no one gets hurt and scarred). But, the lessons aren’t as easy to forget when there’s a scar of it to remind you each day of what had happened in the past. Internal growth sprouts when one accepts the past for what it is instead of formulating a tactic to change it. Today, I know I am enough, in fact, more than enough, for myself. To wish I could be someone else is an insult to who I have built myself to be – a notion that has taken years for me to learn and embrace – but better late than never. Thank you for reading.

Side Post
Someone I follow on Instagram, Vanlizza, she too has her own blog, and wrote a beautiful piece recently. Check out her writing! It always blows me away. I learned from her that October is National Depression Awareness Month. I’d like to take a moment to say that depression takes form in different fashions, sometimes it’s subtle and slow, sometimes it’s painful and pulsing, and we should never be ashamed of how we feel, for depression is something that cannot be controlled and configured. If you or someone you know is going through a tough and dark time, here are some numbers to call. Your life matters.

Depression Hotline: 800-273-TALK (8255)
Suicide Hotline: 800-784-2433
Crisis Call Center: 800-273-8255 or text ANSWER to 839863

Graphics all by yours truly.

We blame society

Yet, we are society.

As an advertising major, I was shocked that in my advertising classes, we seldom talked about how advertising affects the demographic we often ignore: adolescents. Kids these days are growing up with iPhones, iPads, and other mobile devices that didn’t exist during my childhood, so it’s a no brainer that children nowadays are exposed to much more advertising than previous generations. There’s ads before YouTube videos, underneath all the free games, and during their favorite TV shows. During my projects, we’d target the most profitable demographic: the millennials or the baby boomers, but we never stop and think about who were unconsciously influenced: the younger generation, Generation Z.

As I returned home, I learned the details of my younger siblings bickering with each other, and I was absolutely livid when I found out one of my younger sisters called my other sister “obese and disgusting” along other vile words. Knowing my mother would never say such words to my sibling, I quickly made the assumption that my sister gained this thought process from the media or society (friends, classmates, etc). My hunch is perhaps 70% true since my sister wouldn’t say anything when I confronted her about her mean words.

But the main focus of this post is not about what one sister said to another, but it’s why she said those remarks, why she thought that way, and how we can change the way she thinks. Another thing to note is that millions of young children and teenagers think this way, too. The perspective that a skinny body is a pretty body, that being pretty is all a girl should be, and looks determine someone’s value can be credited to the media and societal standards. Something I learned in advertising is that the best form of advertising is word of mouth advertising – we all trust our friends more than commercials, right? So, when we hear a friend say something that’s not so positive about body image, it can make us think about our own body and how we perceive it.

Certainly, this post is not a self-love post because I am not the proper teacher for that subject, but we should all focus on how we influence our friends, whether we know it or not and whether we believe it or not that we do influence our friends. What we say about ourselves, others, and objects can negatively or positively change one’s opinion. As the oldest in my family, I recognize the influence I have on my siblings, so because of this, I am cautious of my diction, behavior, and attitude towards life. I’m now a teacher – and we all are – so we must teach, not only ourselves, but the ones around us, to be better.

This post was made in dedication to my younger sister, Lily, who turned 13 in September! Happy birthday, my little artist.