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For most of my life, I tried to shrink myself to try and fit into other people’s boxes. I have sacrifeiced everything about me to make others happy. As a small girl, I knew that I wasn’t enough. I could feel it in the looks I got at home, that I wasn’t the favoured child. That I never quite lived up to expectations. I tried to mold myself on other people, trying to emulate what they had that made them loveable. Never feeling like I, as myself, was enough to be loved.

As a teen, I felt like I didn’t fit in anywhere. I was a bit of a loner, shy, quiet, so unsure of who I was. My aim was to just blend into the background.

Occasionally, a moment of bravery would happen, and I’d make a move to be who I wanted to be. It never lasted long before I would shut it down and tell myself I couldn’t do that. I applied {and got a place} for a drama course, I wanted to act so badly. at the last minute I didn’t take it up, for I felt that I was fooling myself. Me? Act – I could ever do that, I would never be good enough, everyone would laugh.

I went back to college at twenty, but dropped out as it was easier for me to walk away than fail.

I got married to the first boy who showed an interest because I felt like maybe this was my one and only chance of love. I didn’t believe that anyone would love me, would want to be me, so when someone did, I grabbed hold and never let go.

There were times when I was so desperately unhappy, when friends told me I should call it quits and walk away from my marriage. But I stayed. Because I still didn’t feel worthy. I shrank myself down as small as I could go. I let go of me as a person and was nothing but a wife and a Mama. It was perhaps the only thing in my life I didn’t quit on. I stayed because it was safe. Safe and known. I could stay cocooned safely in my bubble, protected from the rest of the world. I ould pretend to myself, that because I was married, I must be worthy to someone.

I gave up any life that didn’t revolve around my family. I sacrificed my own happiness, that I didn’t believe I deserved, to try and make my husband happy. I shrank my world to the four walls of my house. I was afraid. Afraid of myself and the world and of still not being enough.

I see now how wrong it was. Letting my fear rule my life. Living small. Letting my inner light die out. Comparing myself. Choosing the safest option. Accepting second rate treatment, because I told myself that somebody was better than nobody. I was lonely and unhappy, yet I wasn’t brave enough to walk away.

Except now, I see that it is better to be alone that unhappy. That being single doesn’t necessarily equal being lonely. That you shouldn’t have to sacrifice every part of you to make someone else happy. That shrinking to fit in other people’s boxes is never a good move.

I’ve spent the last four years expanding. Stumbling along the way, trying to figure out what it is that makes me feel so unloveable. Why I feel so undeserving. Wondering why I keep attracting the wrong men – even if those relationships have taught me some very valuable lessons.

I’ve learned how strong I am, how unwilling I am to sacrifice myself anymore. That I want to be ME, unapologetically me. No bending and breaking myself to please anyone else. No apologising for their faults or mistakes. No settling for second best.

I’ve learned how forgiving I am of others, that I can see that everyone is just stumbling along, blindly, just as I am. That we all make mistakes, that we all just do what we think is best in the moment.

I’ve learned that other peopeles behaviour says more about them than it does about me.

I’ve also learned that maybe, what this life is trying to teach me, is that I do not need someone else to love me. I do not need someone else’s approval. I do not need another person to complete me. I need me.

I need to learn to love myself fully. Stand up and be proud of who I am. Seek approval from no one but myself. Stop looking for love outside of me, because that only seems to bring me the wrong ones, and instead focus on loving myself.

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