Introducing Tristen Buckley
“And I said to my body, softly, ‘I want to be your friend.’ It took a long breath, and replied ‘I have been waiting my whole life for this.’” - Nayyirah Waheed
Learning to love yourself: it is something that too many people, including myself, have struggled with, day in and out. My journey to self love is not anything exceptional or particularly special. In fact, I’d say it is an overwhelmingly ordinary one.
Picture this: 14 years old, 5 feet tall, frizzy hair, glasses, and 188 pounds. To say I had a low self esteem would be a complete understatement. Simply put, it was nonexistent. For as long as I can remember, I was “bigger” than all of my friends. When I was younger, it really didn’t bother me. That all changed during middle school, when every other girl started getting attention from boys and I wasn’t getting any. My self esteem was crushed. Thoughts like, “why didn’t anyone want me? It is because I’m fat and ugly, isn’t it?” often echoed through my head. Looking back on it, it is no wonder no boys “liked” me, because I didn’t think I was worth the effort.
After one of my signature screaming/crying episodes over my weight, I decided I had to change. I started Weight Watchers and went to the gym about four time a week, losing just about 60 pounds in two years. Losing that weight did help a little bit with my confidence level, but in no way did it fix my body issues. I was still overly critical of my body, hiding it behind baggy clothes.
Yet, there was a very clear turning point in my thinking. A metaphorical switch in my brain was flipped. While crying one day over some boy who wouldn’t give me the time of day, my dad came to comfort me, saying something I will never forget; “you have to love yourself before anyone else can love you.” I took that message to heart, making my mental and physical health my top priority. I no longer straightened my hair just to fit in. I bought clothes that made me feel good. I traded in my glasses for contacts. While it didn’t happen overnight, I started to embrace my beauty for what it was.
Fast forward to four years later, and I love myself, unconditionally. I kept most of the weight off, I have a long, loving relationship, and my happiness is off the charts. Learning to love myself is the best decision I have ever made. I still do have negative body days, where I am not totally in love with myself, but the positive days truly outweigh the negative ones. I have realized that I don’t have to be beautiful like cover girls, actresses, or even my friends, because I am beautiful like me, and that is enough.