When I wrote the piece about boxing, a key to a happy life, I didn’t expect it to turn into a piece about my weight in high school. But it has. I have always been embarrassed about the way I looked in high school. I felt like I was a heifer. But looking back I wasn't “fat” at all. How I felt and what the reality were two very different things. I remember years later a girlfriend put a photo up on Facebook from my supposed “fat” days and immediately I begged her to take it down stating “I have worked my ass off” to not look like that anymore...
What I do see when I look at these pictures now is a girl who was unhappy within herself. I see a girl who didn’t know who she was. I see a lost soul. And that is exactly how I felt back then. I was a kid who didn’t know her place in the world. Who didn’t know where she belonged. When I was little I was such a happy soul. But in school, that all changed.
My journey with weight has been a constant struggle my entire life. After high school, I went the other way and lost too much weight. I thought that if I lost weight I would find happiness. People would love me. But I became so conscious about what I ate, striving for perfection, that I became too cautious, and lost WAY too much weight. And did it make me happy?! No, of course not. But then, guess what I would do when I was unhappy?! Eat. I would eat my feelings rather than talk to someone about how I was feeling. I suppressed my thoughts because I believed that talking about them would make me weak. It couldn’t have been further from the truth.
For most of my life, I have been searching for complete happiness. I have wanted to be perfect. I always thought if I was perfect, I would be happy – but what exactly does “perfect” mean?! What is perfection? The dictionary definition is “having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.” I believed that if I was perfect I would be loved. I was constantly searching for more and more love when all I needed to do was to love myself. Something that was so foreign to me back then.
It has taken me 36 years to understand self-love. To love and appreciate and be grateful for myself. That is the most important love there is. If we have self-love, we don’t search for love from anybody else. We have all the love we “need” – not want. Being in love with oneself is my definition of happiness. We already have all the tools inside of ourselves that we need to be whole. To be happy. We don’t “need” expensive cars, or houses or materialistic items. Happiness comes from within. As soon as we learn to be happy within ourselves, we become complete.
So next time you are looking for love, start from within. I have recently started saying a mantra “I am love”. It has really helped me with self-love. Your mantra might be something different, and that’s OK – we are all wired differently. So find something, a word, a phrase, a feeling that massages your soul, and say it to yourself as often as you can.
Words: Jacintha Akkerman. See more from Jacintha at www.jacinthaakkerman.com