Confession No. 1: I was an insecure teen.

As a teenager, I felt so unsure, doubtful and self-conscious.

I had wavy hair. I thought I was fat. I moved awkwardly. I wore the wrong clothes, apparently.

I kept comparing myself to other girls who had straight hair (like they stepped out of a shampoo commercial) and perfect bodies, who moved gracefully and had model-perfect makeup.

Yes, I was envious of how they looked and what they had.

I studied in a public high school in Switzerland where students wore casual clothes instead of uniforms. My jeans and t-shirts looked shabby alongside the stylish outfits of my classmates.

It came to the point that when there was a new trend, I had to beg my mom to buy it for me. If my grades and behavior were good, I got what I wanted. But most of the time, I didn’t. My parents taught me the importance of hard work and exerting effort to get what you want.

Whenever my mom bought what I liked, I felt happy. But only for a while.

Call me superficial, but I have to admit that not looking a certain way and not having cool stuff made me feel like I wasn’t enough.

That feeling changed when I met true friends who appreciated me for well, being just me. The messy-wavy haired me. The awkward me. The unfashionable teenage me.

My friends and I shared a love for sports. We liked being active. We went skiing and swimming. Sometimes we went window-shopping. Even if we didn’t buy anything, we had fun. We enjoyed each other’s company. We had sleepovers in each other’s homes where we would talk until the wee hours of the morning.

They were daughters of my mom’s friends. We went to the same church. Every Sunday, we had youth Bible study, so we also prayed and talked about God.

The true friends I made in high school are still my friends now.

These friends of mine made me feel loved. They accepted me for who I am, and I cherish them. You know who you are!

And I want to assure women out there, young girls especially, that it’s important and amazing to be just you—to not change for anyone else’s approval!

Whenever I read or hear the expression, “How to be you?” I get a little upset. I am actually sick and tired of it. It’s not cute.

People stress about not looking like their Instagram idol. This attitude has become a sort of sickness. We need to stop comparing ourselves to other.

Each of us has her own special gifts and talents. Each one is beautiful in her way.

Take care of yourself as best as you can. Exercise. Eat healthy. Develop your talents. Appreciate your uniqueness, whether you have a curvy body, wavy hair, straight hair, lanky arms or whatever. It’s okay to have baby fat. It’s okay to have curly hair. It’s okay if you are not graceful. You have positive traits that you can accentuate. You have a good heart, and you can give love.

Find true friends who will have a positive influence and bring out the best in you.

Don’t ask the celebs you idolize, “How to be you?” Instead, ask yourself, “How can I be the best that I can be?” and improve yourself.

Do I hear a “yes!” to that challenge?

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