My journey to loving myself – Samantha de Senna Fernandes
Samantha de Senna Fernandes (16) is our Student Ambassador, helping fellow teenagers understand the benefits of Persona Life Skills. In this blog 'My journey to loving myself' she advises teenagers to be true to themselves and embrace their identity.
By Samantha de Senna Fernandes, Student Ambassador
When I was four days old, I was diagnosed with a rare skin condition called Incontinentia Pigmenti, or ‘IP’ for short, which comes with a lot of health complications, such as hyperpigmentation, intellectual disabilities and blindness, to name a few. Luckily enough, I didn’t inherit those symptoms. The patterns on my skin fade over time.
Growing up, I underwent a lot of bullying. I was already made fun of in kindergarten. It was so hard for me to make friends because all the kids would call me a monster and run away from me. And I never understood why they would do such a thing when I intended no harm at all.
It was hard for me to process the fact that I was different, and that not a lot of people liked that about me.
When I was 13 years old, boys in my class hissed at me and body-shamed me whenever I walked into a classroom. I always stood out from the crowd and I hated that because I thought that if no one can accept and love me for who I am, then I couldn’t either. I hated the way I looked.
I know exactly what it’s like to hate the body you were born in. I even wore long sleeves during the summer because I was ashamed of myself. I wanted to hide my identity to seem normal for once.
And this was the darkest time of my life.
However, one day, I looked into the mirror and I came to grips with my fears. I looked around and I realised how lucky I was, standing here, alive and well. And this is where everything changed.
From being someone extremely insecure about my appearance, I discovered myself and turned into someone who started loving the patterns on my skin. I started to embrace my flaws because these are the things worth loving about ourselves. I learnt how to enjoy living in the body I was born in.
You either come to terms with it, or go against it and suffer.
A six month social media holiday
One habit I have adopted that has improved my body confidence is not going on social media too often. Social media really does a lot of damage to people’s self-worth. It’s a drain of our self-love. People go online to show off their amazing bodies, even though they might be the most broken out of everyone.
During my own self-discovery, I lived life offline for six months. This helped me immensely with coming to terms with the way I looked, especially since I wasn’t bombarded with photos of models with the perfect bodies every day.
This prevented me from comparing my body to others’ – which again, ties into self-love.
Once you feel a slight ounce of negativity about your body, you start to overthink everything about yourself and everything goes downhill, which most of the time, leads to you changing yourself in order to feel loved and accepted. This is something a lot of teenagers feel pressured into doing because they believe that in order to receive validation, they must change.
Yes, change yourself for the better and do it for yourself, but don’t you ever think of changing yourself for other people.
You need to be true to yourself. Being true to yourself and embracing your identity takes a lot of guts, but I promise you, it’s the best thing you can do for yourself. Accept your core being, and amidst of all the chaos, try to find yourself. The more you love yourself, the more you will know what you truly deserve.
My task for you today is, go to a mirror, look at your body and give yourself compliments – whether on the way you look or your personality. Anything works. Really look at yourself and realise how beautiful and blessed you truly are to have come this far, to have overcome all the obstacles that life has thrown at you. You’re here, living in your beautiful body, whatever the height, weight, shape and colour.
It’s important to practise this sort of affirmation. The more you say these beautiful things to yourself, the more you attract it and believe in it.
After all, you deserve to.
About the author: Samantha de Senna Fernandes is a student from Macau, China, at school in the UK. She blogs and speaks in schools, to give courage to those of her kind, aiming to educate the bullies and empower the bullied. Samantha also enlightens teens on the reality behind romantic relationships, toxicity and breakups. She raises awareness about the toll on mental health caused by social media, but most importantly, she uplifts teens to stand up for who they truly are.