Submit Your Question to C.J.
Conversations about life submitted to C.J. by young women from around the world.
"How can I deal with being self-conscious about my body?"
submitted by M.Bell Woodland Hills, CA
I think that I have a big nose. My frizzy curls annoy me more often than not. When I step on the scale I exhale in disappointment because the number hasn’t moved in the direction I wanted. And yet, my young son wakes up every morning and gives me his biggest smile before leaning in and giving me a little kiss on my mouth. He throws his arms around my neck and squeezes really hard so I won’t let go. My son doesn’t care about my nose, or hair, or body size. All he cares about is love- and being loved. We, as women, beat ourselves up almost every day about the way we look. We compare ourselves to photos in magazines- photos that have been airbrushed and “Photoshopped”. We look at celebrities, or even women in our friends and family circle who get more attention than we do, and we begin to look at all that is wrong with our bodies and all that is right with theirs. Do you want to know something crazy? They are doing the exact same thing! Your friends are looking at all that is right about you and your body and feeling bad about everything they see wrong with theirs. No one seems to be satisfied with the skin they’re in, or the hair on top of their head. Curly-haired girls want straight hair and Straight-haired girls want curls. I want you to know that you are not alone. Every woman in this world is self-conscious about some aspect of her body. I also want you to know that there is SO much more to you than your body, and those that love you (just like my son loves me) will see all that is right about you and not what you think is wrong. Whether you are tall, short, thin, curvy, dark or light, you are beautiful to someone in this world. You are beautiful to more people than you realize. I just need YOU to now embrace that beauty and embrace the love that comes along with it.
"How can I focus on the future when I feel so bad about my past?"
submitted by M. Sanchez Los Angeles, CA
I have struggled for many years with letting go of things I did in the past. I used to wish that I could jump into a time machine and go back to change some of my decisions and actions. When I had to face the reality that time machines existed only in the movies, I tried to run from my past. I tried to forget some things even happened. No matter how hard I tried, those things would still haunt me. I would spend a fun day with friends then later that evening, when I sat home alone thinking about certain past actions, I’d say to myself “Wow, I can’t believe I used to be so insensitive.” My week would be going along just fine and then, out of the blue, I’d think “Whoa, I can’t believe I dated a guy like that.” Instead of finishing the day or the week on a good note, I would sit and let things of the past hover over me like a dark cloud and before I knew it I’d be in a terrible mood and feel terrible about myself all over again. It can be difficult to let go because even though you have changed your life for the better, the memories of things you did and the person you used to be still pop up from time to time. The way to let go of the pain and regret is to forgive yourself. You have to forgive yourself and understand that had you not made some of the mistakes you made, you would not be the better person you are today. Some of the greatest people in the world have made some pretty big mistakes. Don’t run from your past. Look at your past and think about all the things you've learned because of what you have experienced. Think about all of the progress you’ve made because you decided to move out of your past and into a better future. Stop beating yourself up and instead celebrate all the good things you’re doing now. True friends have already forgiven you. Family members who love you have already forgiven you. Now it’s time for you to forgive yourself.
"An older loved one is very ill. What's the best way to deal with that?"
submitted by V. Negrete Whittier, CA
My grandmother, who helped raise me, died when I was fourteen years old. After she passed away, I spent a lot of time thinking about things I wished I had said to her or things I wished I had done for her. I was upset with myself for not telling her every day how much I loved her. I was angry for not listening to her more often and doing things she asked me to do without putting up such a fuss. She had been ill for some time and as I looked back I was saddened with regret for not doing so many things a bit differently- a bit better.
Learn from my mistakes. Tell your loved ones how much you love them. It only takes five seconds to say “I love you.” Make a card for your loved one telling them thank you for being a part of your life. It will take you less than thirty minutes to make. The next time you’re on the computer or watching television and your loved one interrupts to ask that you get them a glass of water, don’t grumble and say “Wait, I’m busy.” It will take less than five minutes to do something nice, something done in love. Don’t do what I did, or didn’t do, and then look back on this time with regret. Your loved one, though ill, is still here with you. You can still share a hug, a laugh, or sit and eat lunch together. If you do all of these things while they are still with you, the memories can help ease the pain you’ll feel when they are no longer physically here. You won’t look back and say “I wish I had…” or “I should have done…” You will look back and say “I’m glad I did and because I did, those beautiful memories will live on in my heart forever.”