Eleanor Roosevelt Once Said...

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Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Friendship with oneself is all important because, without it, one cannot be friends with anybody else in the world.” As I have grown up from an awkward, unhappy young teenager to an older, more confident version of my former self, I have learned that before I can love anyone else, that I must love myself.

The transition between elementary and middle school was one of the hardest things I have ever had to go through. I was at that awkward stage; I had painfully nerdy glasses, and shiny braces that seemed to condemn me to a life of geekdom. During the summer before my sixth grade year, I grew three inches. Needless to say, I hadn’t exactly grown into my legs, and I tripped over my feet more times than I could count. My situation didn’t exactly lend itself to self-love, and my demeanor reflected it. On my first day, I dressed in an orange shirt and jeans, and I braved out of our house to an environment full of new faces and opportunities.

Shyly, I entered the school and scoured every corner for a familiar face. Unfortunately, I did not know a soul, and I did not have the confidence to introduce myself to any of the other kids. Already, they had created exclusive groups, each one I was not a member of. Eventually, everyone walked to their respective classes, and I was one of the first students in the classroom. Slowly, the other students filtered in. I barely had the self-confidence to look any of them in the eye, much less attempt to make conversation with one of them.

Although none of my old friends were in my first five classes, I managed to plow through the day with a bit of optimism. In fifth grade, I had made some new friends despite my shyness. I thought that maybe I would make some new friends in middle school. And, slowly but surely, I did – just not as quickly as I would have liked. As my middle school career progressed, I became less gawky and more confident in my appearance. My braces were removed to reveal straight and perfect teeth, and contacts replaced my glasses. I made more friends by smiling my eighth grade year than I did in my entire sixth grade year. I realized I had to love myself before I could ever like anyone else. I began to see what many others had realized before me; to be happy, I would have to be my own best friend.

As I began ninth grade, my first year of high school, I worried that my middle school nightmare would return. Mentally, I chastised myself for even dreaming I would revert to my old introverted self. I had become my own best friend, and, even now, I always know I can rely on myself. This experience has helped to make me into a stronger individual who is kinder to those around me – you never know what your neighbor might be going through in life. No matter how difficult my middle school years were for me, I will never regret them. I look at all my friends today and realize I would be nothing without the friendship I gained through befriending my toughest critic: myself.





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