Did you know that the things we often struggle with most are actually the lies running around in our heads? Recently we asked some bella girls what their battles were and how they are overcoming them.
Can you identify with any of them? *Their names have been changed.
Jade - My struggle was comparing myself with others, especially with my friends. I wanted to be like the popular girls so I too could be popular. I actually began to realise I was becoming a copy of others instead of being myself.
Lee - I always believed I was ugly. I used to stand in front of the mirror and pray for extremely beautiful hair, skin, small lips, gorgeous smile - what the world says is 'pretty'. From Year 9 I would not leave the house without makeup on. But recently I was challenged to deliberately go out without any makeup. I changed my aim to "Let me see myself as beautiful" and I am gradually more happy with and accepting of my appearance.
Sally - Depression built up in me in Year 12 and half way through the year I could hardly pull myself out of bed. I was not open to those who could help and I refused to go to school. I had nothing to live for and could not climb out of the pit. Then people started noticing and tried to help me. I didn't like it at first but it was helpful to take steps to get out of depression. Now I love getting up and meeting each day. I have great mentors in my life, like my mum and teachers who are so understanding of me. I have been given the option to go back this year and finish school so there was a pathway to get through it. My advice to others is talk to someone, even though it's hard.
Belinda - I was always very lonely, even though I had a decent amount of friends. I began to realise that I was looking at my friends and wanting them to affirm me. When they didn't do that, I went home and thought I was awful. I was putting expectations on myself and got panicky if there were not enough Likes on Fb! That began to change when I realised what I was doing and tried to affirm my friends instead.
Jenny - Peer pressure was my problem. After moving to High School I felt pressure to be in the new popular group in Year 8. I found myself doing things I knew were not right like going to parties and drinking. I had to lie to my parents. In Grade 11 a friend said "Jenny, what's going on? That's not you." She helped me to realise I had to stop hanging out with people who brought out the worst in me. It took me till Year 12 and although it was hard, it was the right decision. Friends I cut off talked about me behind my back and I felt alone but in the end I found better friends, found a youth group and mentors who helped me.
Emily - I was afraid of what people thought of me. I am a people pleaser, afraid that people don't mean what they say, afraid of standing up, of making wrong decisions, of failure in my studies. Gradually I have found the courage to say what I think, to say 'No' sometimes and to face my fears, knowing that every time I do this I am stronger than before.
Hannah - I felt voiceless or insecure, questioning “Where do I fit? Where do I belong?” In my head I could hear only the voice of what my family said. When people got angry I shut down and it was a huge struggle. Then I recognised the fear and got to a point where I was sick of not mattering to anyone so I made a decision I would not let this go on. I decided to take every opportunity that opened up to me and gradually I have found I do have a voice and I am significant.
Naomi - My problem was rejection - I had no friends in high school. It was really hard, and my mum also rejected me in a way. However, I have been able gradually to talk things through with her and I have been on a journey of forgiveness of those who hurt me and am feeling much freer.
Bethany - My family had drugs around and lots of stuff at home so I did too. For a long time I denied my drug problem, kidding myself it just helped me to cope with life. Then I began to think about drugs constantly and I hurt a lot of friends, lied and did stupid things. I was very close to dying or going to gaol so in desperation I decided to go into rehab. I am free now after nearly a year despite urges to try drugs again 'just once'. I couldn't have got free on my own. My goal is to be able to help other girls in their fight against drugs.
Margy - I always felt stupid. My mum had mental health and anger issues and she called me “Stupid” for even tiny things I did wrong. I was so lonely that I used to go down the back yard to cry and talk to my cat! Although I started to go down in school work, one day I happened to do really well and I realised that maybe I could achieve something after all!
Jasmine - My dad rejected me even though I loved him - when I tried to hug him he would always shove me away. I never heard he loved me but my brothers did everything with my dad. After a while I started looking for the attention of guys, needing male attention for approval. One day I realised this wasn't enough and listened to a spiritual song that helped me see I really was significant. From then on I tried to handle my rejection properly and remember that others love me, even if my dad doesn't.
Melanie - When I was younger I masturbated and was addicted to it and couldn't stop. I knew it was wrong, but kept going back to it. I now know a lot of it was in my mind with lust for another person. Movies and music really did affect my thinking, no matter how much I said "That really doesn't affect me!" Eventually I got sick of it and learnt to reject dirty thoughts and replace them with good ones.
Helen - I lost my grandfather with whom I was very close. It has been a terrible grief for me. I felt as though life had to start all over again, but I didn't know how to begin. Gradually I started to dance and found I could regain some of my strength.
Can you see the pattern in these young women's lives?
They had different issues but all were honest enough to admit they were struggling.
For each of them there was a moment of truth when they faced their weakness and then for each of them there was a way through, often with the help of others.
Bringing their problem out into the open helped to send the darkness away.
If you would like some help with your struggles, feel free to write to us confidentially at firstname.lastname@example.org. We might not have all the answers, but we will happily listen, and sometimes we can recommend people who may know how to help better than we do.
Take care of yourselves and each other, bella sisters!