Beauty is everywhere. As a young child, I was curious about the world, but I quickly moved on from one thing to another, never taking the time to truly appreciate my surroundings.
My dad is a photographer, and as a 10 year-old, I lacked the ability to see the outstanding qualities in his photographs.
Bright, vibrant, and crisp yellow tulips appeared to me as dull. Breathtaking sunsets over the lake appeared to me as boring and uninteresting. However, today I could sit staring at his pictures for hours.
I’ve developed an invaluable sense of perspective and mindfulness of all the small beauties in life.
These days, my head is almost always in my schoolwork or my phone or my laptop. I tend to neglect the opportunity to see the world through an ‘unstressed’ lens. This is why I believe any chance I get to look at the world, to see something different than that little phone shining its light on my face, becomes extraordinary. Life is truly beautiful when you take the time to see it.
School is not about image or ‘popularity’. All throughout middle school and 9th grade, I cared so much about my reputation. I’d look at myself in the mirror and criticize everything I saw: If I didn’t wear glasses, people would like me more... I wish I wasn’t so short...
Every comment I made destroyed my self-confidence. I guessed that popularity would cover my insecurities and would make me the person everybody wanted to be friends with. I’m not sure what did it for me, but gradually, I watched my friends around me become people I no longer recognized. My closest friend had become incredibly obsessed with her image on social media, and I saw her abandon her family and friends for this trap.
Throughout this process, even though I didn’t realize it initially, I was learning. All the pieces begin to fit together for me as I learned about the high school world – not just the good, but also the strikingly bad. I gradually began caring less about what others thought about me after I realized what ‘popularity’ meant. I now care more about my family and my values. I feel at peace with who I am.
Throughout this process, I’ve realized that people who are worth it will accept you regardless of how you look or how many friends you have. If they do not accept you, they are simply not worth it.
Differences are valuable. In an age of controversy and separation, I have become more understanding of the people around me.
Various cultures captivate my interest. I value everyone’s differences, and rather than shying away from them, I want to learn about each difference, each unique quality that builds up our world.
Sexual orientation, gender identity, style, race, skin color… these are qualities that I’ve learned to embrace about myself and those around me. I’ve learned that a person’s actions are truly what define them, not their appearance or identity. I've learned that diversity is what makes the world beautiful.
Author's Note: My hope is that through this personal reflection, you will be encouraged to think about how you have changed, what you believe in, and who you are. Journaling about how I'm feeling and taking time to reflect on my life have proven to be great ways for me personally to release tension or stress and also discover more about who I am. I hope you may benefit from these activities too!
The TeenzTalk blog is here to amplify teens' stories on topics including personal challenges, wellness strategies, initiatives in their community, passionate pursuits, & more.