"I grew up painfully shy and insecure. I never wanted to be the center of attention. This shocks people who have known me only as an adult. Growing up, I felt unattractive. I never felt smart, and I constantly compared myself to others. This lack of self-esteem followed me through my adult years. It has been a long journey to get to a place where I can hold my head up high. Over the years, I have forced myself to dive deep into the core of my insecurities, instead of avoiding them and pretending they don't exist. Through this work, I've found hidden gems that I'm still learning how to embrace.
It was around my mid-twenties that I began to truly focus on my own lane. My "aha" moment came when I stopped comparing my journey and success to everyone else's. Through trial and error, I've come to understand that my feelings of self-worth cannot be defined by how I stand in comparison to someone else. Knowing this and believing this, is liberating. For example, I used to be ashamed of the fact that I barely graduated from high school. I believed that was a reflection of my intellectual abilities. Now, as a PhD student, I've come to reflect on that part of my past as a source of pride and triumph. Each day that a little whisper of self-doubt creeps its way into my ear, I remind myself of who I am, because only I can do that."