Tag Archives: self-discovery

Self-Worth/Love can be ACHIEVED

Hello everyone! It’s 2018 and this is my first post of the year. Being a consistent writer is a lot harder than I had expected. I began the new year in a completely new and unknown state of mind. I no longer was heading off to college to start a heavy semester. There were no books or homework waiting for me. I was just heading back home to start a new chapter in my life.

For my New Year’s resolution, I decided to do something different. This year I decided I didn’t want to change anything about my body. I wanted 2018 to be the year of truly helping people and exploring/finding myself. These are two things I have slowly dipped my toes into in the past four years, yet truly haven’t committed my life to.

On January 1st, I waited in the immigration line in Miami for more than 2 hours. It was chaotic, haha, just as I felt my life was at that moment.  I had just returned to the U.S. from Mexico. That night I slept on the floor of Miami’s airport. It was freezing cold and I was not mentally prepared for the cold to dig deep into my soul. The night was long and tiring. As I laid on the airport floor, I remembered feeling anxious about my life and the person I was and who I wanted to be. I had spent my last few days in Mexico confused and trying to figure out why people do the things they do and what their motives are behind their actions. Through the amazing women and men I met, I was able to sort of grasp these confusions enough for me to realize, I too, had motives behind my actions. These motives were sometimes good and sometimes unclear. So, as I laid on the floor at the airport, I had to make a decision of what my motives would be this year.

Within the past 3 months, I finally understood what 2018 was about for me. My motives were changed from “how I can help” to “what do people need”. This made it clear to me that I needed to share my story about how I learned to love myself and how I saw my worth. So let the journey begin to where it all truly started:

AGE 11

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It’s funny to me to look at this photo and think, “Wow she looks happy, energetic, and possibly even playful.” Although, what was behind the mask of that girl was different, I was sad. I had literally zero confidence in myself. In my mind, I was the ugliest and fattest girl you could have ever seen in this world (Let’s be honest those glasses were not helping the situation). Growing up, I had these two beautiful, younger, fashionable, athletic sisters. People were drawn to them, just as much as I was. I wanted to be them. As the older sister, I wished countless of times to change bodies with them. I wished to not feel fat or weird around them. I was the sister who was passed down clothing from her step-mother. It was just easier that way because my body was different. The clothes passed down were not being used. At the time, I never thought about how accepting these clothes would affect me mentally in the long run. Growing up, I was also told not take pictures by myself, but instead to include people. Therefore, literally, 2004 was one of the last few years you can find many photos of me by myself, at least looking like this. After that, things went downhill. I look awkward in all of them, haha.

I don’t think people realize how much actions and words can affect young children. If you are constantly hearing that your sister, who is half your size, needs to watch her weight and not eat that or this. I mean what do you think the others around them will feel? Yea, maybe it wasn’t me being told to watch my weight, but I sure understood what was going on. I understood that I must have been obese or something (which obviously from this photo and looking at other ones I WASN’T). In 2016, Dove came out with new research about women and girls and the beauty pressures and how their self-esteem has impacted them.  “Girls (79%) [said] they opt out of important life activities – such as trying out for a team or club, and engaging with family or loved ones – when they don’t feel good about the way they look” (https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-dove-research-finds-beauty-pressures-up-and-women-and-girls-calling-for-change-583743391.html). I can agree with this. I didn’t try hard enough or try at all in sports because I thought it wasn’t for me. I kept comparing myself to my sisters and I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t for me. For example, in 5th grade, there was a jump rope team at my elementary school and everyone wanted in, including me. I saw my sisters jump rope and I knew they were good. We have a home video of us three jump roping at the park. It was mainly focused on them and how well they did. I was there. I kept messing up. So at tryouts, I literally talked myself into believing that I was too fat to be a real jump roper. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t get in, but my sisters did. The coaches felt bad for me so I became the new team manager. Oh man, I hated this. I hated being left behind. I hated people feeling bad for me. Therefore, I pretended to be really happy. I eventually was given a group on the team. I didn’t earn it. I just got it out of pity. At home, I felt like everyone knew I was an impersonator. Sports just never became my thing. In middle school I dropped out of the cross country team even though I loved it. I did soccer and loved it but dropped as well. Finally, I tried swimming, I hated it but didn’t drop it (Yes, I was surprised as well). I tried cross country in college. I seriously loved it. I improved my mile time like crazy. I enjoyed running long-distances, but because I was afraid of failing, I thought better to quit while I’m ahead.

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My change began in High School. I wasn’t confident, but I definitely enjoyed figuring out who I was and what I wanted. When a guy liked me, I literally turned into the weirdest girl ever. Ask my friends they will tell you. I didn’t know how to interact with the opposite sex. I remember this one guy I liked, every time I was near him I did something stupid. I couldn’t even form a sentence. I was surprised to find out he liked me back. I somewhat became obsessive. I bet he knew. Everyone did. He still liked me. Man, maybe that’s why I may never be able to forget about him. Let me tell you, it took years before we had our first kiss. Anyways, the point is, I finally started to realize that I must have been attractive, for people to at least like me. I started to even question my thoughts on obesity. This was life-changing for me. Most of my life I thought I would die from my weight, just to finally start realizing I wasn’t really fat.

Then, things rapidly changed just after graduating from high school. I started to look at myself and not see that awkward 11-year-old. I remember looking at myself in the mirror and finally seeing something beautiful. It’s the weirdest feeling to have. I finally started to let go of that scared girl I once knew. My friends at the time were a huge help for me. I don’t think they realize it but I will always be indebted for their love and patience towards me. They always gave me compliments and they taught me how to dance. In general, they taught me how to be comfortable in my body. These wild girls gave me life, a sense of purpose in our group. They accepted me as a transfer student my freshmen year, and they still accept me today.

Now, time for the heavy stuff. Change doesn’t come easy. It’s a lot of work and you have to experience a lot of bad before the good. Or, at least see others go through the bad to make you feel the need for change. My change in how I saw myself took years and some awful experiences I had to go through. Many of you know, but some don’t, I was assaulted before I started college and then was raped my junior year in college. This part is the hardest for me to write. When I laid on that airport floor, I had to think about all my experiences. Everything connected in some way or form. I am not the woman I am today because my life has been all super good and happy. I am the woman I am today because of all the experiences I’ve gone through. Not growing up with my mother, living in a foreign country, feeling insecure about myself, not knowing my purpose in life, and not being good at particularly anything. These were things I had to think about. Just a few things I have personally been through. I know many other women who have gone through worst. Some wished to be able to read but never have owned a book or gone to school. To love myself, I had to accept my past and the decisions I choose. I chose to quit sports. I chose to compare myself to my sisters. I chose to go out that night that led me to be taken advantage of. I knew I had to accept that these were my choices but that they were not my fault. I had to take the actions away from who experienced those things to the person I could be. It’s hard. But, I knew to find my worth in myself I had to see my bigger purpose in life. Everything I have been through has led me to realize who I am. I advocate for women. I advocate for the most vulnerable.

My time in college I blossomed, just like many others. My best friends inspired me to be the change-maker I am today. My experiences led me to spread awareness on ending violence against women. Everyone super close to me saw that I was beautiful, confident, vibrant, outspoken, adventurous, intelligent, and yes a runner. I then soon started to see all of this for myself. Now I have many pictures of myself. I love to dance by myself. I finally like being by myself. I finally understood that accepting my body meant accepting all of me.

I have made it my goal in 2018 to continue to explore who I am and most of all to see what are the needs of the people around me (physically and virtually).

To the readers, you are capable of anything. You are worthy to live the life you want and desire. Make the choice to love yourself.

And finally, to my 11-year-old self. You were always worthy.

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Travels and Self-Discoveries

It’s time to write about women building each other up and not breaking each other apart. This summer women from around the world have helped shape me as the person I am today.

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I want to apologize to everyone who had expected a blog post every week but saw that I didn’t continue after week 4. I’m sorry that I allowed myself to neglect my blog and from keeping things from you all. I hope that this post makes up for it. I wont be talking about my internship or how it ended, but about something deeper that made a huge impact in my life.

But before that I’d like to let you know that my internship was filled with mistakes and disappointments on my end and the organization’s. Although this is true, I gained new friends, a deeper love for children and affirmation that I want to empower women. Not only did my summer entail of an internship that taught me a lot and the value of hard work, but of amazing new friendships, some dancing, exploring, hiking, learning to be more self-aware, summer romances and maybe even love. It was filled with a little of everything and I would not change anything. Not even the tears and frustrations. Everything was meant to happen the way it did.

With all that being said, this summer exposed me to some incredible women. It was as if God wanted to show me that women are incredbile creatures. That women are capable of doing amazing things independently and can work together. Some of the women I met really struck a cord with me. It was like I didn’t know that women could do certain things. Each person taught me something, even if they didn’t know it. Below will be a picture and a blurb about each stunning woman who impacted me in some way.

Sol

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Brilliant.  I can’t express how much this person has impacted my life. She was my roommate and partner in crime, while I was in Kolkata. I grew with her intellecutally and matured so much! This incredible human being mentally pushed me to the point of me crying, but she told me something that I have kept “Nohemy, I am like this with you because I know you can handle it. You have unique experience that you have been through and can use it to understand both sides.” Ok so this is not an exact quote, but it is super close. She empowered me to speak my mind and not hold back. I thought I was confident before, but when I met Sol, thats when I truly met a woman who was so confident in her beliefs. Today, I consider her to be my best friend, an older sister. She continues to encourage me to be myself and to explore the world. She has faith in me and my capabilites and she reminds me of this daily. Thank you Didi.

Jessica

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Assertive. Jessica is another incredbile person I met while interning for New Light. This human being found herself in a stressful situation, as I did, but she found creative ways to move past the “drama”. She only spoke kindly about the children and saw things in a positive way about her situation with the organization. I never heard her say she wanted to give up. She was determine to to get done what she wanted. I was awed with how assertive she was with everyone in the organization. She didn’t hold her tongue but held her ground. I kept thinking that I wanted that quailty. To be so assertive because of how confident I was in myself and what I stood for.

Ėmeraude

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Self-less. My new Canadian friend! I didn’t get to know her super well, but the small time that I did I was so impressed by her. She is much younger than me but I never realized that till she told me her age. This young woman was traveling around India by herself, while volunteering to different organizations each time. She told me her stories of being in New Dehli and then volunteering at different schools. Her passion would glow around her when she spoke. We went to the movies and then even went dancing together…which was an interesting night on its own. Anyways, this summer I realized that women of all ages were going out to this world, exploring, helping others, and finding meaning in their own lives.

Tereze

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Resilient. Tereze and I met at our first couch-surfing host place. We shared a room and bed together, so our acquaintance was rather quick. I mean we had to trust one another since our stuff would be in the same room and we had to be comfortable sharing the same bed. Seriously, Tereze was just super cool. She just did everything she felt compelled to do, even if she was nervous. When she thought of doing something, she just did it. We rode all around Southern Bali together on a motocycle looking for cool beach spots, ate cheap food, and went dancing. Her strong personaility just kept me wanting to know more about her and I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to meet this person. Tereze unknowingly inspired me to take chances.

Jakie

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Adventurous. Jakie and I met in the most oddest way possible. We met before traveling through a travel forum. She wanted to travel with someone for a bit in Bali and well we somehow made it work. This girl is seriously one of the most FEARLESS and ADVENTURE SEEKING person  I have ever met. She literally jumped off a 15 meter (about 49 ft) cliff, while it took me like 30 minutes to jump off a 5 meter (about 16 ft) cliff.  She trusted me enough to pick her up in a different city and then drive on a motorcycle 3 hours north. We almost had two crazy accidents and yet she was still trying to get on that bike with me. She has been independent since high school, earning her way through life and school. This inspired me so much. Women work so hard to move ahead in this world. I can’t wait to see what amazing things this girl will be up to next. I already know she will be in South America seeking another adventure very soon.

Juliet

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Caring. Juliet was the second couch surfer I stayed with. I was supposed to be at her home a few days earlier than I arrived. I was barely recovering from a massive motocycle accident and missed my flight because I couldn’t walk. Momma Juliet was seriously the most caring person I met during my trip. She treated me like a daughter. She would constantly ask me if I was ok and if I needed anything. She would feed me and talk to me. She has a daughter, who she takes care of on her own. She constantly works to improve her and her daughter lives. Juliet took care of me when I needed someone the most. She helped clean my scabs and wanted me to feel comfortable. Just thinking about her hospitality brings a warm fuzzy feeling in me.

Carolina (3rd girl)

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Gregarious. Caro is the definition of a social butterfly. Her smile and laugh could light up a dark room. I met her towards the end of my trip in Kolkata and I’m so grateful I did. It was a group of Colombians I randomly connected with at a Latin club. I felt a wash of a homey feeling come across me. “WOW”, I remember thinking. I need to learn this from her. I want to feel connected when I speak to people and make them feel like they are the only ones in the room. The places we went together, everyone wanted to be next to her. This was incredible. Yet another trait I learned from an amazing woman.

Nareth

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Determination. There is so much to say about Nareth, I could probably write a book about her life and everything she has overcome. She was born missing half her left arm, but this did not hinder her growth and her love for life. I met an interesting man who had connections with almost everyone in Siem Reap. He was extrememly energetic about empowering women and seemed to enjoy every aspect of life. This man sent me a video and then connected me to Nareth. It was one of the most humbling moments of my trip. Nareth was so thrilled to show me what she was working on. She was thrilled to get to know me and wanted me to feel comfortable. She gave me a water bottle and a banana and I was blessed enough to see her smile. Her passion is sewing. Sewing has empowered her and given her hope for a bright future. She is determine to fight against her physical barriers. And for what I saw, she already has/is. Thank you Nareth for demonstrating to me that when you have hope and determination anything is possible.

Here is a link of a mini-documentary about Nareth:

The Women of Mukti 

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Persistent. These are the women I was able to get to know from my internship. They were working on a project called Mukti, which means liberation/freedom. This was a women empowerment project that focused on creating an alternative method of income and was a way for women to escape the sex industry and abuse that came with it. These incredible women make 80-100 sanitary naptkins every 2 hours. I helped on multiple occassions so I could get to know them. I still have all their names memorized and things they like to do. At first they were shy around me, but the more I came and the more I showed interest in their lives as women, they allowed me to be part of that sisterhood. Leaving these women was hard. When I looked at them, Ino longer saw women with a tough past nor did I pitied them. They were strong, independent, loving, self-less, beautiful women. They now and forever will be my friends.

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This post wasn’t necessarily about what happened exactly during my summer abroad, but about shining a light to the women that made an impact on me. There were more people that did impact my trip, but honestly I could write a short book on it. We can all take a second in our lives to think of the women and men that have placed a puzzle in our lives. We become the people we want by being inspired. We can only be inspired when the flame inside is lit by the people we surround ourselves with. I am committed to light the flame in every women I come across. Sometimes it can be hard, but if these women didn’t give me a chance, I would have not learned such valuable lessons of what true womanhood sysmbolized. Lets committ to empowering and loving each other, rather than gossiping and pulling each other down.

Much love and till next time!

Week 4 and my recharge

This past week was seriously a blur. Of course I know you are all expecting me to be sick once again…and you were right. I was. I got a crazy allergic reaction to something I don’t even know. Seriously the weirdest thing ever. Last week was not really exciting. It felt like I was going through some routine that I didn’t even know I had. 
Luckily I have a roommate that keeps me going. I mean I can survive on my own, which I was, but finally someone to debate with. Someone to challenge me, my views, and values. One thing India has brought to me is a lot of self-discovery. Being around other interns and their lives is an incredible feeling. It makes you feel more connected to them. I’ve gotten to know some of these girls pretty well. One shared some personal stories that made me reflect on my own life. Getting to know people is a remarkable feeling. 

 I also ran across a girl from New Zealand who is interning for a hospital. We already even planned a mini trip to the coast. I’m finding it thrilling that I’m meeting people I would have never done so if I was back home. I wouldn’t be discovering new things about myself and breaking limits I didn’t know I had. 

I need to share with you a new place I was able to visit this past weekend. It was a random trip to Dubai! I know super crazy. A friend invited me to figure some stuff out and to get help for my allergic reaction. I’m telling you I looked puffy and red in the face and some random rashes on my legs. Well anyways I somehow found myself on a 9am flight Friday.  Dubai is extravagant and luxurious. It’s super clean and shiny. Massive hotels and resorts. Every car I saw seemed too expensive to even look at. It was a bit uncomfortable. How can people in this world be starving to death and homeless when there are so many wealthy people in this world that could change it in a blink of an eye. 

Even with that discomfort I was able to find joy of the place. There is no “true” Dubai traditions or cultures that I was able to see. Dubai is still a young country, with new things being added everyday. It’s growing and now more people are vacationing there. There isn’t only food and shopping. There are now water parks, spas, theme parks, camel riding and surfing in the desert. 

I just did the classic thing of eating, sight seeing, swimming, and an amazing spa treatment. 

Finally, I was away from the noise and chaos. It was just me. My time was mine to think about me for a day and to really ask myself what I was even doing in India. I feel like so much has occurred to me in the one month I’ve been in India that in the past year. I was able to sit and just go back and think what was my original purpose of this internship, how did I lose my vision, and i needed to get myself reorganized. Plus the weather and the pampering cleared my allergic reaction in a day. 

I was able to lay in bed and just ponder the existence of life and think about my own journey. What this weekend was, was a privilege that most people will never have. That’s why it was at first uncomfortable for me, knowing that I was there relaxing, so many are out there searching for food. These thoughts never leave me. They always find there way in my head. 

Even though I’m constantly thinking of this I do take time to be grateful and enjoy the moment. From my room I had the perfect view of the sunset. It made me get emotional.

See I told you that the sunset was spectacular. 

The weekend was a luxury that allowed me to rethink everything in my life. I might not needed to go to Dubai for this recharge but I’m grateful I did. Now my project proposal has been written and approved and I start today. I have a month to make this internship count.  To prove to myself that I am capable of anything. I refuse to get sick again or to have anything pull me back, even myself. We never give ourselves enough credit of our capabilities. I’m now all in, no reservations or judgments. 

Week 4 was more about reflection and sharing pictures and even some videos. Next week you will hear about my project! Below a little more pictures, not of Dubai, but of Kolkata.