"A picture is worth more than a blank page. Take out those dusty photo albums. Pick out photo #14. Count however way you like, but make sure you stop at photo #14. Look at the photo for 2-3 minutes, write all the feelings that photograph made you feel. Don't censor yourself. Just write."
I was eighteen in this picture. It was the summer before college started, and I was suffering from what I thought was a broken heart. Later on in my freshman year of college, I came to realize what a broken heart really felt like, and all of that pain made this moment seem like child's play. But I wasn't there yet. At this moment, I had just graduated high school, and the boy I was dating snubbed me for a girl whose pants came off a lot more easily than mine did. I thought it was me. Maybe I was supposed to dumb myself down and slut myself up in order to fit in with this society. It was important that I proved myself to this guy that I could be fun too. I went to all of the coolest nightclubs (as cool as any 18+ club could have been anyway), and danced with as many random guys as I could to prove to this one guy that I was desirable. Simultaneously, I was using these nights out to prove to myself that I was good enough. For what? I didn't know. I still don't know. It wasn't long before I started to take a step back and ask myself, "What the heck am I doing with myself? Why am I doing this? Am I really lowering myself to fit the obviously low standards of a sleazy guy who couldn't care less about me?" This picture was the morning after one of my nights out, and I remember thinking to myself, "This is not who I am. None of this makes me happy. This is getting ridiculous, and it needs to stop before I become any more ridiculous." I have always had a hard time respecting those who failed to respect themselves, and in that moment, I definitely had a very hard time finding a way to respect myself. My image was all wrong. I didn't know who I was at the time, but I knew that I didn't want to be the girl who futilely chased a boy around just to prove that she was worth it. I knew I was worth it to someone who was worthy of me. I knew that I was better than the person I was trying to paint myself to be. I left the club scene after this. Don't get me wrong, I still like to go out from time to time to have a good time with my friends. I am not, in any way, against the bar or club scene. The difference today, however, is that I go out for my own fulfillment of being in the company of great friends. I dress appropriately and drink accordingly. I have tossed out the trashy tactics of minimal clothing and maximum makeup, and adopted a level of class that involves indulging in moderation, and enjoying life to its fullest extent. This picture is a reminder of the day that I pulled myself out of a mess before it became a disaster. What I felt in this picture was shame. What I feel now looking back, is pride. I'm proud of myself for realizing that I am better than what my insecurities fooled me into thinking I was. This was one of the lower points in my life, but I am thankful for those low points, because they motivate me to constantly strive to become a better person today than I was yesterday.