Originally published on the occasion of International Women’s Day

As a little girl I grew up in a family where everyone was trying to survive so I told myself that I was unlovable.

In preschool my teacher didn’t understand why I was such a strong, wild child and my teacher would look at me with frustration and dislike so I told myself that I was wrong.

In middle school I learned that I was different and weird because I didn’t think or learn like the other kids and people would say mean things to me.

Later in High School I learned that I didn’t belong anywhere because I was so hurt and depressed that I would say mean things and I told myself that I was unlikable.

At my first job I was “let go” after a coworker grabbed me inappropriately. One week after I told my boss I was dismissed so I told myself being a woman was dangerous.

In undergrad I felt like I didn’t fit in because I didn’t use weed or other drugs so I spent most nights at home rather than at parties so I decided that there must be something wrong with me.

When I started my first job after college, I was told by an influential male colleague that I should use my body to influence others; I quit, telling myself I wasn’t smart enough for the position.

I told myself all sorts of stories until one day I decided that I didn’t want to be in that story any more. I didn’t want to feel unlovable, bad, weird, unlikable, that my body was dangerous, that there was something wrong with me, and that I was unintelligent.

The Courageous Undoing

So I started writing a new story.

I started to see all the good things more than I saw the bad. I turned all my activist energy away from self-criticism and turned toward healing others who were stuck in their stories.

I had to take care of myself and make space between my beliefs and the cast members of my old stories.

I found some new co-authors who saw me differently and were willing to stick around and help me find my way out of that script.

We all have stories that we have learned throughout the years. Sometimes all that’s needed is a new scene, character or chapter and sometimes we need to start writing a whole new volume…which feels as terrifying as it feels liberating.

“I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.”  – F. Scott Firzgerald