I was in my junior year in college when the big turnaround happened and I began to slowly transition into becoming who I am now: a radical adventurous free-spirit, independent, non-conformist, eccentric wanderer, wild nature-lover, artistic, free-thinker, lover of life, and lover of beauty.

Photo by Courtney Brown

I can never take full credit for learning to obsessively love myself the way I do now.

It all came about when I met one of my best friends, who I would later consider a soulmate. Because of that individual, I received motivation and affirmation of my inner dopeness and outer beauty. I started internalizing so much positivity that I thought, 'Hey, maybe I am pretty cool.' Still, it was obvious that I had to put in some work.

I began to dare myself to be fearless. It is impossible to reach self-discovery without bravery and getting out of your comfort zone. This took a lot of time of standing in front of the mirror and self-affirming everything that I could possibly find good within me, both intellectually and spiritually.

I knew I wanted to be a helper, nurturer, fixer, lover, and an inspiration. I wanted to be who I needed when I was younger, so I set out to be her.

I wrote out what I wanted to do with my life along with what I loved the most, so the next step was to actually do it. I learned about the power of affirmation not only to myself, but to others. Being able to not need anyone else's acceptance or approval is powerful, but it’s a journey, and just like my best friend helped me get there, I wanted my radical self-acceptance make a heart stir and inspire. I googled, I emailed, I texted, and I took charge. My soul was into being an advocate for women, my people, and my community. I also had a yearning to experience life in everything that caught my eye: art, literature, the moon, nature, going on adventures, eating vegan ganache cupcakes from Quacks, getting a taste of new places through restaurants, and a plethora of other activities. The more I dedicated my time to what I truly wanted to do with my life, the self-love began to increase. I was happy with myself. I followed my heart, and I still follow it every day.

The journey to self-love and self-discovery is messy, stressful, ugly, and painful, but the end product is pure beauty—an unapologetic, inspirational, provocative, and heart-stirring phoenix.

It may not be at the pace everyone expects, but I learned that it is okay to be incomprehensible. I am a bird, and birds are not meant to be caged.

Soul searching wasn’t the only self-discovery journey that I was on; I was also learning to love what I saw reflected back at me in the mirror. That was my honey skin, my scars, my crazy curly hair, my round nose. I wanted to look like the other girls who had straight hair, fair perfect skin, and a small nose, due to internalizing what I observed in public and in the media. I had to be brave and literally start telling myself that I was beautiful. I remember crying and yelling in my car because of my imperfect skin and comparing myself to what the others girls had, it did not mean I was not pretty. It meant I was different, and that I was special. I was not put on this earth to be pretty, I was put on this earth to move mountains. I am meant to be a stepping stone to inspire self-liberation and move others to embark on a journey to challenge themselves as I did.

There is no secret recipe to self-love. You literally do you, fearlessly.