When I think back to my 20-year-old self, seen at left in Thailand in the early 70s, I only have one message to share:
BELIEVE IN YOURSELF, and be happy and proud to be who you are!
You are exactly who you were meant to be, and that’s a good thing!
Nothing can be gained by being hard on yourself.
I remember being so painfully self-conscious and self-critical back then. No one could convince me of my right to be exactly who I was, or to feel true self-respect.
I attempted to change for just about everyone who demanded it, most notably my sometimes mean and abusive boyfriends. I felt like I would never be who I wanted to be, and felt stuck with being endlessly self-critical and defective.
Being so critical, I seemed to naturally attract those who felt comfortable sharing all the ways I was inadequate. Something tells me that if I had felt a lot better about myself, I would have attracted a more generous group around me.
I recall one female professor I had at the University of Washington in my early 20s, who tried to be reassuring. She told me I was independent and different than most of my peers, and that was a good thing.
I of course thought she was crazy but, now I KNOW she was right!