As a woman in today's society, my confidence and outgoing personality should be praised.
I was raised in a generation programmed to ridicule themselves and those around them. As a teen, it was default for my peers and I to shame ourselves and constantly strive for 'perfection' - to be thinner, taller, blonder, sexier, dumber - whatever the goal, girls around me were filled with an unbreakable determination to reach it. When I was a teenager, it was simple - if you didn't look a certain way, you weren't considered beautiful. If, as a 14 year old girl, I didn't have a tiny waist, protruding breasts and waist-length hair, I wasn't worth the time and effort of most of my classmates. I was scrutinized for everything I wore, ate and said - until I morphed into everyone else and followed the heard and almost every 'trend' they set.
I moved countries and schools, and therefore was given the opportunity to re-invent myself. And that's just what I did - I found myself. The person I discovered wasn't shy and afraid to speak her mind. She was smart, confident, sassy and fearless - some of the things I love most about myself now.
My journey to confidence was not an easy one. So why is it that now, as an outgoing young woman with a voice, I remain to be scrutinized? Because I'm 'too confident', which apparently translates as a front. I have been 'called out' by family, close friends and strangers who all claim that my confidence is a mask I designed to conceal the deep-rooted issues I have with myself. Rather than the support and honour I should have received, I was encouraged to believe that my confidence wasn't a credit to myself.
Make no mistake, there are things about myself that I find hard to love, but I choose to accept them, as every part of me is a valid contribution in making me who I am - and what's not to love about that? When I look in the mirror in the morning, my first thoughts are only positive - how magical the sun looks shining on my silvery stretch marks and how grateful I am to have a body strong enough to carry and support me for hours at a time. Should I pick up on something I don't deem aesthetically pleasing? I vow to flaunt it for all the other women and girls with similar insecurities.
Confidence is intimidating. Considering the way society pits us against one another, it isn't the norm to feel comfortable and happy within oneself. But guess what? My confidence isn't a facade to hide insecurities. I worked hard to love myself. Sometimes, I want to take all of my clothes off and parade my naked body to anyone who's paying attention and, sometimes, I have days where I want to don my baggiest t-shirt and pull the duvet back over my head. It is completely normal.
I am no longer afraid of my cellulite, fat rolls and stretch marks. My loud voice, strong opinions and confidence are not silenced anymore. It is my belief that I am lucky to be here, healthy and happy. You have been blessed with your assets both inside and out, so they're probably due a little appreciation.
I will not apologise for my confidence or for loving myself. I believe that everyone deserves to feel happy in their body, and will fight for the world's agreement.