be yourself

by Christa Melonae

“Christa Melonae, just be yourself!”

I can clearly hear my mom’s words playback in my head, and for some reason, my eyes are starting to get dewy with tears.

What is wrong with me?

Why am I on the verge of tears?

I'm not even sad!

I blinked them away quickly and started typing this post.

I knew exactly why I was fighting to hold back tears, but what I didn’t realize is that I was still so connected to a period of my life that happened years ago. High School is a tough time for me to revisit because I struggled to be the confident and loving Christa that I am now.

I wish I would have actually listened to my mom when she told me to “be myself”. But instead, I most likely nodded passively and smiled to get her to talk about something else.

I had the typical high school experience. I was social, played 3 sports, and wrote for the school newspaper. I was well liked by my teachers and I had a lot of “friends”, but at the end of most days I was emotionally exhausted and felt quite conflicted.

I wasn’t being myself or keeping it 100… as some might say.

I actually found it difficult to be myself, to stand up for the things that I believed in, and to live them out every day. I was so focused on being liked by other people that I started to change the way I acted and dressed.

Before you rush to say every high schooler struggles to be themselves, hear me out. The frustrating aspect of my story is that I actually knew who I was! I knew what I liked and what I didn't like, but I willingly traded a lot of the things that made me uniquely Christa for temporary acceptance.

At 21, I’m now looking back and wishing I had the courage to truly be myself when I was 16. I wish I wouldn’t have forfeited who I truly was to win the approval of people.

I would have told my high school self not to change a thing about her appearance. I would have told myself that:

  • Your curly fro is beautiful, so don’t shrink when people stare … smile bigger!

  • Wide leg culottes are actually fire, so you can give the Lululemon leggings a rest

  • Real friends love you for who you are– flaws and all

To be honest, there are a lot of things I would have done differently if I knew then what I do now.

It's sometimes difficult for me to look back on this period of life, because I wish it would have played out differently. But my hope is that my story encourages someone who might be going through a similar situation.

You’re not alone girl.

Learn what you love about yourself, write it down, and make sure to hold on to it tightly. Don't let anyone take it away from you or tell you that it isn’t cool.

Just Be yourself.

Let's keep talking!