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While on Facebook yesterday, a blogger that I follow posted this picture of Lil’ Kim. I had to look at the picture twice because I did not recognize her. At all. This was not the Lil’ Kim I remember from the “Crush” video. I thought this was some photo shop foolishness so I went to her Instagram account and surely, this was Lil Kim.

Lil Kim 1

More than just shocked, I was kind of…well really just shocked. What happened to her? I jumped on Google to find old pictures of her and again…I was just shocked. Well this morning, a friend of mine shared this picture on Facebook with a supposed quote from the rapper

Lil kim 2

Now I cannot say with certainty that this is a true quote but if it is…this has connected the dots for me. And while I have not done anything this extreme, I know what it’s like to think less of yourself.

For most of my life, I’ve struggled with my self-esteem. I cannot pinpoint one exact thing that triggered it but there are times when I think I’m not pretty enough, smart enough…just enough. I don’t like my height, my eyes, my breasts, my hairy arms, my long second toe. Even though these are physical things that I can’t change, I still struggle with accepting my flaws. Deeper than that, I am too emotional, I am shy, I am anti-social, I am an introvert. Being around people is a constant game of comparisons and I tend to walk away feeling inept, unpretty and judged. For some people I know that suffer with this like I do, this is not a constant feeling. There are days I am happy with me. There are days I can look in the mirror and smile at the reflection. There are days when I am confident. It’s just that when the lows come, they are pretty rough.

No matter what anybody says

What matters most is what you think of yourself

~India.Arie

But what do you do when you think little of yourself? What do you do when “they” tell you you’re pretty but you don’t see it? Lil Kim said “I don’t see it, no matter what anyone says”. I know it may be hard to understand why someone would think so low of themselves, especially when it seems you have so many good qualities. For as difficult as it is for you to understand, try to live through it. Lil’ Kim eluded to the fact that her father and other men constantly put her down. That’s enough to make you question how you see yourself.

For me, it goes back to thinking I’m not good enough. I really couldn’t even tell you who I’m not good enough for. I know I have some really good qualities but I also have a hard time accepting compliments. They make me uncomfortable. When someone tells me they liked something I wrote or that I’m pretty or that they like my hair or even that I’m doing a great job raising my kids, I deflect. I downplay it. I have a hard time accepting it. I scrutinize myself. It’s easier to just say thank you but for whatever reason, I cannot take the compliment and go on.

Seeing the pictures of Lil’ Kim yesterday I was full of judgment. Why would she do this to herself? She wasn’t ugly before. Why does she look like an entirely different person?

But when I saw the quote today, my judgment disappeared and all I had left was empathy. Because I completely understood. Even though I haven’t done anything this extreme (the most I’ve done was cut off all my hair, later dye it red and then loc it) I get what she’s trying to do: She wants to be happy with who she sees in the mirror. And believe you me, that is often a hard, long journey.

I almost didn’t publish this because it’s baring my soul and the words took a turn somewhere I wasn’t expecting. And I don’t have solutions.I don’t have a nice bulleted list of things to do to change your vision.  I want to be able to help someone with this but there isn’t a magic button that can reset my mind. This will be a journey but I’m not sure where to start. So feel free to share some advice. I know there are people who need to hear something good.

 

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