This past week I was back in my hometown speaking to surrounding schools. It has been a dream of mine to travel and speak. I want to be the person I needed when I was younger.

When I was younger I was super negative. I was super mean to myself. I had the worst thoughts about myself. I lived in fear and constantly wanted everyone to like me.

I was bullied in school. I had girls look at the wall instead of me while in class. I had people make puking noises when I walked into rooms. I know the feeling of not feeling good enough. Of feeling alone. The feeling when your heart suddenly drops to the floor and feels like concrete.

I went back to the school that broke me. I pulled up to the parking lot with tears in my eyes, telling myself not to cry because my makeup looked really good that day (I barely ever wear makeup.) I calmed myself and walked inside.

Flashbacks hit me. I was reminded of all of the things that were said to me in those hallways. I was reminded of all of the days that I wanted to crawl inside my skin and disappear. I was reminded of all of the hurt and self doubt I carried around for years.

It didn’t break me this time.

I am not that girl anymore.

I am not the girl that keeps her mouth shut so others will like her. I am not the girl that dresses in baggy clothes to hide her body. I am not the girl that is scared to be alone or disliked because of who I am. That girl still lives in me, she still remembers the sting, she still is fearful, but she does not control me anymore.

I am thankful for her. Without her I would not be who I am. I would not be able to relate with others and listen to what they have to say even when their voice is shaking. I would not be the girl who likes the things that make me weird or different. I would not have compassion for those who are hurting and who want to disappear.

It was funny because many of the kids I spoke to were related to those who were not kind to me while we were in school together. I actually had some of the kids refuse to be in my talk and skip the classes that I was in. I have never spoke to those kids, they only know me from the picture their families paint of me.

It reminded me of when i was back in school. It stung a little. But I am sad for them. I was coming to school to uplift, encourage, talk about ways to deal with the opinions of others, ways to like yourself a little more. I was coming to love on the kids and be who I needed when I was younger, and they didn’t get to experience that because nothing has changed. I am a whole different person and I assumed that their families have grown up too, but nothing has changed.

If you don’t deal with hurt in your heart, you will hurt others and be unhappy.

If you don’t face your demons and the things that make your blood boil when you think about it, you will become hard and bitter.

I could have let all of this negativity, all of the days when I hated myself and came home from school crying break me and make me bitter. But I didn’t. I faced it. I let it hurt. I forgave and it has made me better.

Without knowing it, you could pass on bitterness to those around you. You can also pass on love and grace to those around you.

Don’t let it break you.

Flowers do not compare themselves to the flowers around them, they just bloom.

So Bloom and be proud of who you have become. You have worked very hard to be this person. You have fought many silent battles.

I know I have.

Let’s use these battles to help others through the same ones we have fought.

Someone needs who you have become and are becoming.

From someone who has been crushed and bitter,

From someone who is proud of who she is becoming,

From someone who wants to use her struggles to help others,

From someone like you,