By: Abbey Lyn Clark, Regular Contributor
Image from madamenoire.com
I always considered my life ordinary. I had an ordinary upbringing with a (semi) ordinary family. The middle-class neighborhood in which I was raised, my house, and even the problems my family faced were typical. I wouldn’t say I grew up with a white picket fence, but something close to it. My family went on vacations, I had my own room, and I lived right around the corner from one of my best friends. When I came to college, my average lifestyle was thrown through a loop. I immediately met people who had already overcome so much in their young adulthood life. We are talking dysfunctional to non-existent family lives, substance abuse, broken neighborhoods, crime, eating disorders, and self-harm, just to name a few. Serious stuff. It’s a simultaneously ironic and inspiring concept that the people I find most interesting and empowering are the people who, at one time in their life, couldn’t even look themselves in the mirror.
These people, without trying to, made me feel gracious for the life I was given, but also made my problems seem trivial. Recently, my “ordinary” life has started to seem more complicated, and I have started to reflect on some very real personal issues that I’ve never had to deal with before. In comparison, my problems a few years ago were trivial, but individuals who have had an uphill battle their whole lives continued to inspire me through it all. Recently, I started venting to one of my most supportive girlfriends, I told her, “No one is going to want to be around me with all this emotional baggage.” I know, a very negative statement for a yoga teacher to say. She calmed me down and told me to look in the mirror and tell myself how beautiful, smart, and accomplished the girl staring back at me is. I did what she said to do and stared at the glass through my blurry tears. I didn’t know how things had gotten so bad without me knowing. She knew I wasn’t talking about problems about a guy, but she told me out of the blue: “One day you will find a guy who doesn’t think it’s baggage, he’ll just see it as a part of what makes you, you.” Accepting your whole self: it’s harder than it looks, but it’s harder when you’re not even aware that your foundation was crumbling beneath you all along.
Everyone has his or her own demons to face and I have realized that my life is anything but ordinary. My experiences, good and bad, my shortcomings, and even my day-to-day problems and triumphs are unique and just as important as anyone else’s. It’s true when they say that everyone has a story to tell. The problems I face now seem less “ordinary,” more real, and more a part of me than ever before. So how to cope? I strongly believe that anything can be conquered with positivity and the will of the human spirit to overcome. While all that seems cliché, I know that it’s true. While I’ve had my fair share of dark moments, I’ve been blessed to have people in my life that remind me that these moments are just moments, and the light is trying its best to shine through.
Life certainly isn’t easy, but it is absolutely wonderful. I have found that looking at your reflection admirably is a process. Being truly self-aware takes practice and coping with the negativity in your life is an every day battle. However, confronting your faults, accepting your whole self, and accepting the person who stares back at you in the mirror is so, so brave. I was wrong the first time: the most exquisite and beautiful people are not the ones who have merely known struggle and adversity. I have learned from personal experience that they are the ones that face their hardships head on and take steps to overcome them. They are the ones who move on in life to inspire others. They are the ones to tell you to go out, buy a mirror, and embrace your whole self. As Janis Joplin once said, “Don’t compromise your self; you’re all you’ve got.”
About Abbey: Abbey Clark is a rising senior majoring in English and Human Development at Boston College. Along with being the I AM THAT GIRL local chapter leader at BC, she is also a yoga instructor and the co-president of her all female a cappella group: The BC Sharps. She loves spending time with her friends & family, baking, and traveling. She is an advocate of healthy living, real beauty, and is so proud to be part of such a beautiful organization that is changing the world for women and girls!