Tonight as I lay in bed with yet another migraine, I start to reflect on the last several years of my life. The memories I’ve made, friends I’ve lost, tears I’ve cried, and the adventures I experienced. It’s hard for me to imagine that in a few short weeks, my junior year of college will be over and I will enter into my senior year. I’ve come so far from my freshmen year and endured through so much. After some reflection, I pulled out the pictures I have saved on my computer and began to scroll through every single picture I have saved, beginning with the summer before my senior year of high school. What seems just like yesterday is now four years ago. 95 percent of all my pictures I have are of me and my ex, but I’m thankful that this doesn’t make me nostalgic, only thankful for the way he encouraged me to go outside my comfort zone and do things I wouldn’t have done on my own. As the months and years go by I notice that my smile becomes less bright and pain can be seen deep inside my eyes, and I know that this is when my depression first struck my life. I’m thankful that I was obsessed with taking pictures and capturing every moment. These pictures remind me of memories and days I forgot about and how for just a little while I escaped the evil clutches of my mental illness. As the pictures continue, I remember how I was feeling in the exact moment or how I felt just hours before and how much it affected my day and later on my entire life. I let my insecurities get the best of me and it affected everyone I came into contact with. The freshmen 15 is real and all I could think about is how I used to look in high school, how much prettier everyone else around me was, and ultimately how I wasn’t good enough. I used this to push people away because I believed those around me always deserved someone better than me. This of course only made my depression worse, which in return intensified my insecurities. This is my biggest regret thus far in life. I wish that I had learned to love myself and embrace who I was. I wish that I hadn’t put my insecurities on others, I wish that I wouldn’t have let my crappy mood affect my day and the time I spent with loved ones, and most of all I wish I would have accepted love instead of push it away and prove it wrong. When I was 19 I wanted my 18 body back, when I was 20 I wanted my 19 body back, and now being 21, well I would just kill for any of it back. It’s funny how now when I see pictures of myself from years ago I can see how beautiful I was and how much joy was within in me, but then all I saw was imperfection and worthlessness. Instead of being mindful and embracing the moments I was in, I was only worried about how I looked and what impression I made to others. I was so concerned with protecting my self –image and beating myself up that I broke any confidence within me and let it break the happiness around me. As I look at my life and put the pieces together from the last several years, my heart aches for the way I was feeling and the way I made others feel. I’m so blessed to have the boyfriend I did because his constant reassurance stopped me from sinking deeper into self-doubt, but my heart also breaks for him because he dealt with such negativity for such a long time. If only I had realized my potential and my worth, how different could our relationship have been? So, even though I am nowhere content with my appearance and I’m working hard to lose weight, I will not let it affect my personality or my confidence. I will not let it stop me from laughing from my belly, singing loud in my car, dancing around in my underwear, or smiling at the guy across the restaurant. I’m sad that it has taken me nearly eight years to realize this, but I’m glad that I finally have. I don’t need to starve myself, work out four hours a day, diet uncontrollably, suck my stomach in, or have mental breakdowns over what I look like because my heart is the only part of me that really matters. Depression may be a part of me, but I will not let it define me and how I see and love myself.