How I Changed My Life by Remembering Who I Was Before the Pain

“If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.” ~Unknown

For a skinny, curly haired five-year-old girl, life was magical.

Buried in books and living in my imagination, I was constantly scribbling stories and dreaming of far away places. My inquisitive mind and persistent curiosity led me further than I ever thought possible. I was a little girl with big dreams, in a world where nothing seemed impossible, where life was bliss.

Then school started.

It wasn’t easy. In fact, at times it was horrifying. And not academically, no, I enjoyed it very much. But being different and not trying to fit in made me an easy target for bullying.

Despite my efforts to look less noticeable, my peers constantly teased me for wearing glasses and for being a bookworm and a nerd.

I was once pushed in the classroom during an art project and suffered a concussion. Kids planted firecrackers in my jacket pockets and hood, and regularly threw them at me.

My math teacher, who called me “stupid” on several occasions and told me that brains and beauty don’t go together, regularly humiliated me in front of the whole class.

I had shivers before every exam, and as a result, I developed hatred toward math and a belief that I wasn’t smart enough. Only when I started high school did I realize how amazing math was and that I wasn’t bad at it at all.

This all had a great impact on how I treated others and myself. I became an irreparable people pleaser, never knowing how to say no or put myself first. In my mind I carried an image of a girl who was strong on the outside, but constantly on guard, defending herself.

As I grew older and became more aware of my looks, I started hating my skinny legs and big curly hair, finding fault in everything. The belief that I was unworthy of love made me fall for guys who were good at putting me down, feeding off of my pain and insecurities. I never had the courage to leave no matter how toxic the relationship was.

So I gave into sugar because I didn’t have the courage to face my troubles, and the pleasure of eating made me feel good for a few moments. It was the only time when I felt satisfied, not having to think of anything else. But soon afterward I’d feel incredible pain and overwhelming guilt that made me hate myself even more.

I completely ignored my feelings and neglected what my body and mind were trying to tell me. I started doubting my abilities and lost confidence in my purpose, my dreams, and myself. I stopped smiling.

I often felt angry and anxious, which caused me to frequently cut my hair, indulge in sweets to the point of disgust, and overwork myself without taking a day off in weeks, so that I would go to bed tired and not have to think of my struggles.

But I was sick and tired of putting myself down, living a lie, and delaying my life because I didn’t know where I was going or what I wanted.

Deep down, I knew I needed to cure myself. I was determined to make a change.

Then one sunny winter day in Japan, while I was running by the river, I faced a moment of truth. I saw people around me going places, rushing to reach their destinations. But even though they seemed busy, they all looked as if they knew exactly where they were going.

That’s when I stopped and asked myself, “What do you really want in life?” It was a revelation hard to explain in words, an incredible energy and force that helped me wake up. In this tiny moment I found the strength to make a decision to take my life into my own hands and start living the life I deserved.

So I sat down and wrote everything I had ever wanted in life. I wrote all of my dreams, goals, and plans that I was going to reach “someday when I have more time.”

I changed my perspective and finally listened to my heart. I did what was good for me.

I decluttered my mind. My soul. My whole life.

After years of being an impulse shopper, I made a decision not to buy anything that doesn’t serve a purpose and add value to my life.

I distanced myself from everyone who was draining the energy out of me.

I stopped eating processed sugar and turned to clean eating.

I now start every morning with a powerful routine that helps me begin each day happy, energized, and fulfilled. By waking up at 4AM I add two extra hours to my day to do the things that I enjoy, that are necessary for my wellbeing and happiness—meditating, reading, and exercising.

I now exercise out of love and enjoyment, not because I have to burn the excess sugar and fat that I uncontrollably stuffed myself with.

I made a decision to live in the moment. This was the hardest but most rewarding part of the process. After “living for tomorrow” since elementary school, and putting my life off until someday when things fall into place, I finally learned to say yes to life and enjoy it freely.

I make plans for the future, but I enjoy every step along the way without pausing my life until “that day” comes.

And I no longer wait for things to happen; I make an effort to make them happen.

I plan my days and weeks carefully and find that this helps me focus and prioritize better. And no matter how busy I am, I always find the time to do the things that matter to me.

My life transformation didn’t come about overnight. It’s an ongoing process, and I’m enjoying every second of it.

Most importantly, this journey helped me learn to love myself again.

I learned that I have always been capable of being alone and have never needed anyone to show me that I am worthy of love.

I became aware of my sensitivity. I used to take things personally and react defensively to others, which caused me to feel even more critical of myself. Once I became aware of what triggered such behavior, I learned how to respond to such situations in a calm and understanding manner, without putting myself down.

I learned to love my body, and cherish and nourish it in every way I can.

When I realized who I truly was—that little girl who always knew the way, who was happy, ambitious, and kind, the one I shut down for so many years, hiding her, telling her she was ugly and unworthy—I completely changed the way I saw myself.

A whole new world opened up in front of me. A world of opportunities. A world of love. A world I only knew as a little girl. The little girl that freed me.

The woman I wanted to become has always been within me, and I found a way to let her out to be free, uninhibited, and extraordinary. Through my faith in who I wanted to become, I grew into the woman I am today.

Do you ever ask yourself what your life would be like if you had the courage to make a change and start living your dreams?

Life does change when you set goals, commit to your vision, and make an effort to bring it to life. Every time you challenge yourself you emerge as a stronger, more empowered, more capable person. Stop pausing your life until the right time comes or when things fall into place, when you get a better job, lose those last few pounds, or find someone to love.

You are in charge of your life, and you can change it at any time.

If you have a hard time believing in yourself, remember who you were before the world taught you to doubt yourself. Don’t see yourself through the eyes of those who didn’t see value in you. Know your worth even if they didn’t. All you need is already within you. You just have to dig deep and find it.

You are beautiful and worthy, and you are one decision away from creating the life you’ve always dreamed of living.

About T. R. Sebastien

As an avid world traveler, T. R. Sebastien has found a sense of freedom and self-appreciation while wandering. Through her writing, she helps women discover who they truly are and fall in love with their extraordinary traits. Check out her new book, Find Your True Self – The Healing Journal: Your Journey to Understanding, Loving and Accepting Yourself.

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