To some, I am nothing more than a mannequin to dress up and down as they please, becoming perfectly hollow on the inside.
I can’t say that my turning point was like what one would generally expect, in fact I’ve had a few ‘turning points’ and there’s likely more to come. My life wasn’t falling apart; I wasn’t abusing substances in the back of grungy alleyways with people that didn’t love me, balling my eyes out whilst seeking comfort from forbidden fruits, I wasn’t getting into much trouble at all… except in the eyes of my forever forgiving mother. My turning points were perhaps equivalent to small but powerful epiphanies.
My first was at a primary stage of life, when I realised that I would never truly please anyone. I’d always be too thin for someone, too loud, pedantic and dominant.
My second was noticing that to some, I am nothing more than a mannequin to dress up and down as they please, becoming perfectly hollow on the inside. My body, my skin, trivial and unimportant things like the slope of my nose, the colour of my eyes and width of my hips in relation to my waist. These things go in and out of fashion, but my male and female acquaintances are not objects, we are not a statement.
My third was knowing that I needed to learn to respect myself. I needed to stop taking shit from people just because it was easier to let people walk all over me. I needed to start giving myself the credit I deserved and that I was worth more than I thought I was. I started listening to my instincts and doing what made me happy because the only person I needed to please was myself.
The next couple are blurred in terms of sequence, but I started spending hours on Instagram looking at these sparkly, angelic girls, comparing myself to them and asking myself, “Why?”
Why don’t I look like that? Why do I care? A seriously paradoxical battle. I started commenting on other beautiful women as a way to make myself feel better about not looking similar, yet still called myself a feminist. I was having setbacks that I didn’t address and I was trying to be a beautiful woman, but it was only a façade because I wasn’t being myself – I felt foreign in my own skin.
The greatest fear in any kind of strong love, is a feeling of throwing yourself into a body of water and hoping it embraces you as its own, rather than breaking your bones upon impact. Sometimes the water lets you float and sometimes it gets rocky and drags you beneath the surface while you struggle to catch your breath.
Loving yourself, for me and many others is one of the hardest relationships to maintain. I learnt that resilience and persistence are some of the most important traits to teach myself, embracing the word “no” and trusting what I think is right against social conventions became the best tools in my own journey to self love and acceptance.
From knowing what I truly am; I now know that behind every strong person is someone who adores, cherishes and celebrates every fragment of their being. It’s a process that’s for sure, and I don’t think I’ll stop learning things about myself and I don’t believe my love for myself will cease to grow at any point.
Everyone deserves to love themselves because it’s a damn big effort to get yourself there.
Words by Ciena Lahanis
IG – @chenalaharis
Art by Kyle Caulfield
IG – @kyle.caulfield