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Haleigh: Unmasked

By , Springfield, IL
“Real life is a funny thing, you know. In real life, saying the right thing at the right moment is beyond crucial. So crucial, in fact , that most of us start to hesitate, for fear of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. But lately what I’ve begun to fear more than that is letting the moment pass without saying anything.

“I think most of us fear reaching the end of our lives, and looking back regretting the moments when we didn’t speak up. When we should’ve said ‘I’m sorry.’ When we didn’t say ‘I love you..’ When we didn’t stand up for ourselves or someone who needed help. “ – Taylor Swift excerpt from Speak Now.

This excerpt really describes my life right now. Before, I kept pretty much everything to myself; I rarely let anyone see what I was hiding behind my mask. But this time, things are changing and the mask is coming off.

About three years ago, all that mattered to me was being liked. I think I thought that if everyone like me, that meant no one could hurt me. Well, now I’ve realized that all that was pointless because no one is going to be liked by everyone. Now, I care more about liking myself and being who I am instead of someone I’m not. I’ve learned to be honest, not only with myself, but also with others. I have nothing to hide.

A couple of years ago I went through a rough time. I couldn’t accept myself and I just felt ugly. My only solution that I had in my head at the time was to stop eating. I didn’t think of it as anorexia. I thought of it as punishment for all the things I couldn’t do. I couldn’t pitch fast enough, I couldn’t get straight A’s, I couldn’t make myself like me, I couldn’t look pretty- the list could go on and on. I’d start out and not eat up until dinner when I had to eat because my family would be watching, but by the time dinner came I was starving and I’d totally forget about my punishment and stuff myself. I felt like such a failure. I was so desperate that I looked up Pro-Ana sites for tips on how to stop eating and I tried a few, but they never stuck. On top of not eating, I worked out, but I’d always feel so light-headed. I realized that I was experiencing anorexia symptoms and got scared and managed to stop. But there isn’t a day that passes by that I don’t think about picking that back up again to try and make myself “beautiful”.

Looking back, I realize there really isn’t a textbook definition of beautiful. You have to be comfortable and happy in your own skin and that is still something I’m working on today.

I can’t say that I’ve never had doubts about my future because that would be a lie. I think about it all the time. I want to be a model, actress, and author and I know how much work that will take, but every day I think to myself “Will I one day decide that I don’t want all of this?” and that scares me.

I have hurt people- my own best friend out of anger and every day I think about it and wish I could take it all back, All the times I’ve said ‘I hate you’ to someone, I wish I could’ve replaced those words with ‘I love you’. All the times that I dumbed myself down just to make someone like me, I wish I could’ve seen what I’m writing now.

I’ve had days where I hit rock bottom and didn’t think I had the strength to swim to the surface. When I get like that, I think of all the things that make me smile: my family, my friends, and dreams and how much they would be hurt if I decided to hurt myself. To me, al the things I’ve been through were just stepping stones that made me who I am today: strong, independent, loving, caring, sweet, determined, and beautiful.





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