7 years later, I help others learn to love themselves

Grace struggled with self image throughout high school. Now, her story inspires students today to love themselves. Here's how.

By Grace Nesbitt

At XQ, we value student voice and storytelling. That’s why we create spaces like our blog for young people to share their truth and tell their stories. Today for Mental Health Awareness Day, we’re featuring a special guest blog from Grace Nesbitt, who worked so hard to find her inner-confidence as a high school student.

My alarm goes off at 6:45 am. I walk to the bathroom to get ready for the day.

As the water trickles down my face, it starts to turn red. Suddenly I find myself crying.

And now I know the day has finally begun.

My dad drives me to the bus stop as I hold a warm rag to my face to stop the bleeding.

“Don’t make me go in today, dad,” I plead as the bus pulls up.

“You have to go, Grace, you already missed too much last week,” he replies.

So I unbuckle and walk out the door. My legs begin to shake as I embark on another day of school where I feel like no one understands me. 

Taylor Swift blasts in my ears as I try to escape my reality for just a moment. In my head, I’m singing and laughing and dancing around with my friends. But in reality I have to stay silent in order to control myself from bursting into tears.   

I run to the bathroom as soon as I arrive to check on my face and reapply the makeup I smudged from the warm rag. 

When I get to homeroom, my friends are all laughing and talking about the drama that happened the day before. But I’m too afraid to speak, so I sit at my desk silently listening to my iPod.  

Period one goes by. Then two. Then three. Finally, lunch. I’m starving but the thought of eating makes me feel sick. My skin is so bad that any movement in my face could burst a cyst. And I am terrified of gaining any weight. So I sit in a teacher’s classroom for lunch with a few friends and claim that there is a lot of work I need to catch up on.

Fourth period starts. The teacher calls on me to answer a question. By now I haven’t spoken all day because of my skin but I don’t have the option to be silent now. I answer as softly as I can but it was already too late. I can feel the blood dribbling down my face and quickly I reach for the bathroom pass.

 Now I’m hiding in a stall, crying, holding a paper towel to my face. When people come in, I try not to make a sound. Once the bathroom is clear I check on my skin in the mirror. The bleeding has finally stopped.

Once the final bell rings, I walk out with my head low so no one can see me tearing up as the cold air burns my raw face.

No one knows what I am going through.

No one knows how much pain I am in.

No one understands what it’s like.  

I feel so alone.

I don’t even know why I am here.

I feel like I am suffocating on my own pain.

Fast forward 7 years later.

I don’t cry in stalls anymore.

I don’t feel alone.

Instead, I help others learn to love themselves as they are.

I show them they are not alone and that being vulnerable is a sign of strength, not weakness.

The world may seem against you when you feel like you are the only one standing in your corner. But I promise you that there are so many out there who know exactly what it feels like to be going through what you are going through. Sometimes you need to let people in to feel free.