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Learning To Shine the Light

When I was a little girl, I remember always wanting to make friends and talk about what our favorite songs were or what show we were watching on Nickelodeon. I was always so excited to hang out with someone and was not afraid to be who I was. I thought to make friends, you have to be who you are and share the same interests. But not every friendship I made when I was younger lasted a long time. A lot of the kids I grew up with moved away. Every year, I had to start over and make new friends.

I was the youngest of four brothers and a sister, so I was tired of hearing that someone didn't want to hang out with me. I had enough of being rejected. 

In my home life, my sister was much older than me and we did not live together, so we never really connected or spent more than 24 hours together. I was mostly home with my older brothers while our parents were at work. We had our fun days, of course, but there was the teasing and being made fun of, and I just didn't want that cycle to go on at school. School was supposed to be a fun escape.

By the time I was in middle school, I had a handful of friends who stayed long enough to transfer together. Having my small group of friends was great, but eventually, those friends made other friends, and some of them I did not like. I wasn't a big fan of speaking foul language when I was younger and they were cursing like sailors. I was too scared of my parents to even THINK about talking like that. I was afraid if I didn't curse like everyone else, they would call me names or not hang out with me.

In high school, that same group of five or six friends turned into two friends. We didn't go to the same high schools, but we were still close. Because of the little friendships I made in middle school, I was a big loner in high school for most of my years. In my freshman year, I was a real tomboy and hung out with the wrong crowd. We were labeled the freaks and geeks.

In this group of friends, I felt peer pressure and was trying things I knew for a fact I would pay for if I went home smelling different from my mom’s laundry detergent.

I started risking getting in trouble. I had this attitude of not caring. I was turning cold. I was blocking everything and everyone, hurting them before they could hurt me. And in doing so, I was losing friends faster than I was making them.

I was starting to enjoy being alone. When I was younger, my mother always used to tell me “If you can't enjoy your own company, how can you enjoy anyone else's?”

I didn’t have enough friends in high school. I hung out with the wrong crowd. What my mother told me made me realize something. After my first attempt at college, and making short-term friendships, I want to take care of myself.

Respecting & Loving Myself

The first time I dropped out of college was because I wasn't sure what career I wanted to pursue. I didn't want a career for the money; I wanted it for the passion and I didn't want to pay for classes that would lead me nowhere.. I was only working a part-time job, and it was a huge strain on my finances.

I asked my manager at the time for more hours so I could save more money. After work, I would usually go home real quick and get dressed as if I had a date. I was taking myself out. I would take myself out to restaurants, and at first, it was awkward. I used to think other guests would judge me for being alone. So, I would ask to take the food home, go to a park, and sit there and eat. 

I used to think everybody would judge me badly. I know the way I thought was based on old experiences in the past when I found out my old “friends” were talking behind my back. I learned slowly that not everyone is like the girls and guys from high school. 

After switching jobs a couple of times, I was better at talking to people and saying hi as I was walking downtown in my city. I would drive down to Santa Cruz Beach after work by myself just to hear the sound of the waves and the seals. Luckily for me‌, I was living in the Bay Area and had 3 different beaches to drive to that took no more than 45 minutes. The brief drive was always a plus.

During my second attempt at college, I had an idea of what I wanted to do. I know I wanted to work with books. I just didn't know in what position, but I knew I could at least start on that journey. 

At that time I still didn't make friends at school, only one. She was nice, but she was just an in-class friend, we didn't speak outside of school. Which was okay with me. I still prefer being by myself. 

What I loved the most about being by myself was the confidence I was growing. The bravery and independence.

I was becoming more comfortable in my own skin and personality. I would go on friend dates. That's what I call them to this day, I would give friendships a trial run. If I don't feel like I can connect with someone, or get along, or we mostly sit in silence twiddling our thumbs, then that friendship is a dud. But that's okay because at least we tried and figured out that “yeah this probably isn't it”. In doing this, everyone is okay, because not everyone in part was as invested in this friendship and it's easy to let go since it wasn't anything long-term. From experience, it's best to talk and make sure everyone is on the same page. Communication is top tier.

A Little More Love..

I may have learned how to be okay with who I am, but I’m not done working with myself.

I had a short temper and was very prideful. After being torn down by old loves and fake friends, I put myself at the top of every pedestal. I wasn't going to let anyone tear me down again. I thought I had so much love for myself,  but it was an egotistical pride thing. I confused myself thinking it was self-love but it was ego.

I was still hurting and just covering it up with pride. I want to get to the roots of what was bothering me and how I have to love myself. I bought some self-help books. One was a book or diary I could write in called “The Burn After Writing Book”. After writing down harsh feelings, old traumas, and broken relationships, you can burn the book. It came with a set of matches on the cover.

After burning my book, I felt a sense of relief. Weight lifted off my shoulders. I was learning to let go. Forgive, without an apology, and love unconditionally and unapologetically.

Letting go of the past isn’t easy, and I still struggle sometimes with old memories. Some of them hurt really badly and it was hard to stop thinking about them. I used to think that I would never forget. I was right, I wouldn't forget. I moved on. 

I’m not letting my past affect my current life and what I am building. I learned to be exactly who I am and not be afraid if someone says something negative. That is their opinion and everyone is entitled to one. Do I have to accept it? No, it's not my opinion, it's theirs. I’m not going to hold back dancing in a store because not everyone does, well if I like the music I'm going to enjoy it.

I want to enjoy life to its full potential. I want to learn everything I can, like playing the drums and the guitar, and I want to dance whenever I feel happy.  

It wasn't easy getting to where I’m at now mentally, it was a tough road to go through. Sometimes it still is, I have my good days and I have my bad days, but overall I've accepted that absolutely NOTHING is perfect.

These days, I make it a point to take care of myself before I can try and take care of others. I dedicate a couple of nights a week to self-care, I’ll do things like skin care, meditating in silence, or read a book on my TBR. I made it a point that if I felt too busy or packed in during my week, I needed to push some things aside and make room for some me time. Something I wish I knew when I was younger, it’s okay to just relax and think.

I was hurt as a kid and a teenager, but that didn't stop me from wanting love and happiness. It grew that burning sensation brighter. It made me want love and happiness more. Because I know there is always more love to share than there is hate; and being on the love side of life is such a gift, not only to yourself but for everyone else around you.

It gives a sense of giving back as well, loving your community more because that's where we are residing. Everyone wants their home to have peace, but to have peace you have to make it too. People feel energy, they feel love. I want to radiate love. That's what I like to practice to this day. There's always room for improvement.

 About the Author

Raquel Chavarria is a blog/newsletter writer intern with the Love Yourself Foundation. She is all about her family. She loves to go on hikes and take her little family to the park. Raquel loves to find new restaurants to eat and try new flavors. She also loves to read, for fun and for business. Her goal is to work for a book publishing company to be part of the process of helping people escape reality for a few moments and get lost in the words between the pages of a book.


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