If you didn’t already know, May is Mental Health Awareness Month. For some of you, that might just be another random label for a month, but for me, it’s a little more meaningful than that. Mental health is something that not only I have struggled with throughout my life, but something that has been a challenge for other members of my family and a few close friends as well. I have spoken in length about the battle I finally won with my eating disorder a few years back, but I’ve also been working through depression and anxiety since I was fifteen years old. Maybe at some point, I will speak more in depth about those two awful enemies, but for now, I wanted to talk a little bit about one of the major elements that played into them: people-pleasing.
Growing up, I wanted nothing more than to fit in. I tried to squeeze into the popular crowd, but I didn’t own any Hollister clothing, and I didn’t even have a cell phone until I was almost seventeen. In middle school, I tried to become Sporty Spice and took a month of basketball training because that’s what two of my best friends played. They continued on all throughout high school. I quit after that first month. Just because I was tall, didn’t mean I wanted to be a basketball player. Eventually I found my rhythm with the theatre club. Now, don’t get me wrong, I loved theatre with all my heart, but it wasn’t exactly the “coolest” thing to be part of. I began to feel as though everyone I grew up with was looking at me differently. Then I joined ballroom dance. I got even more flack for that. Even within the two realms that I was 100% invested in, I was always trying to be more. I had made a few close friends, but was still trying to impress them and everyone else around me. My anxiety grew as I tried to be someone I was not for the sake of pleasing others.
Life hit pretty hard after high school. My family was going through a very difficult time, and I made decisions that will forever haunt me. I wanted so desperately do to my own thing and be my own person, that I forgot who I was entirely. I tried to find myself again by getting engaged at nineteen and moving to another state. I thought this action would solve everything. Maybe if I put together a life for myself, my anxiety would go away. Not so fun fact: it didn’t go away. After that, I jumped from one bad relationship to another. None of the guys were remotely similar in looks or personality, but they all had one thing in common: they knew how to take advantage of me and twist my mind to believe that I was wholly me when I was exactly who they wanted me to be. I will tell you right now, that was the farthest thing from the truth. I sank into the darkest time of my life. I had no clue who I was. I hadn’t figured anything out, and suddenly I wanted it all to just stop. Now.
I took a leap of faith. I let go of everything I had been trying to become on my own. I said “sayonara” to the jerk I was dating. I dove wholeheartedly into a church that surrounded me with love and filled me with faith when I needed it most. I quit the job that made me show up at work even when I was horribly sick. I started She Saw Style because I knew it was my dream. I would like to say that I am truly myself now. You’ll find me belting Broadway tunes at the top of my lungs, spending hours reading articles on the latest superhero movie, staying home on a Friday night to read an entire fantasy novel, and never ever wearing culottes because I just don’t care for them, and that’s okay. I have surrounded myself with people who know me without a facade and still love me. I realized that it’s alright to just be yourself, without trying to please those around you. If you find yourself feeling like you’re in a situation where you can’t be who you are, and you’re experiencing anxiety or depression related to it, get out. Take care of yourself first, even if it means disappointing other people.
Even in the blogging world, I’m still trying to figure out where I fit in. Before blogging, when I was just posting fashion-related photos on Instagram, I tried to be what other people wanted me to be, but once I began blogging, I made a different choice. She Saw Style is a social outlet, and it’s for my readers, yes, but it’s also for me. It’s “my style spirit encapsulated in a blog” as I say on my about page. I’m not going to sacrifice my standards or change who I am just to be popular on the internet. Whatever you read on my blog, on Instagram, or on any other social media outlet I post to – that is me. It’s exactly who I am if you met me in person, and that’s how I always want to keep it. I want the same to be true for you. It’s so freeing to release yourself from those boundaries and be yourself. I promise, you’ll find people who accept you for who you truly are, you’ll feel so much better, and life will be filled with so much joy. I hope you can take that step today. Happy Mental Health Awareness Month.