I am my harshest critic.  I will beat myself up before I look at the flaws of others.  Although I’ve known this for years, it wasn’t until recently that I decided to try to change my self perception.  It wasn’t until recently that I realized that I needed to become my own hero.

There is a hero in all of us.  When I refer to “hero,” I am not thinking of someone in a cape with flying powers or super human strength.  I think of a person who is courageous, admirable and strong.  Someone who can save you from the difficulties that you face in your life.  A hero is someone who understands you better than anyone else.  That someone can and should be you.

After losing a job that I loved this past year, I had plenty of free time to sit and think.  Although this free time was nice at first, it made me face some demons that I had been fighting my whole life.  I felt like a loser and unattractive.  2012 was a huge year for me.  From running my first marathon to skydiving, I accomplished some things that I’ve always wanted to do but I still felt like I needed to prove myself.  If you don’t give yourself enough credit for the great things that you do in your life, you will never give yourself enough time to be happy with who you are.

I have always been the type of person who strived to become better.  On the positive side of this, I push myself until I finish something.  On the negative, there is that voice inside of me that says that someone else is doing it better.  It doesn’t matter how strong, smart, beautiful or talented I am, there is always more that I should’ve done.  There was always another person to compare myself too.  I know that it is in our nature to compare ourselves to others.  However, this comparison isn’t healthy when it is used to define who you are. I had to realize that it is possible to admire other people’s great qualities while appreciating and recognizing my own.  In order to do this, I had to reflect on what it was that prevented me from doing this.

Growing up, there was always someone who was “better” than me.  There was always a female that I thought was prettier, sexier, more intelligent and tougher than me.  I was always so quick to recognize the accomplishments of friends but put my own on the back burner.  I relied on what they looked like and used their appearance to create who I wanted to be.  I didn’t allow myself to just be me.  I idolized everyone else.  This was a sign that I needed to change my way of thinking.  We cannot rely on others to always make us feel good about ourselves.

While I was unemployed and lost, it become more apparent to me that I relied on others too much and that insecurity is not at all sexy or fun to be around.  I suppose you have to lose yourself every once in a while to realize what a great person you are.  When you only focus on other people, you leave no love and respect for yourself.  I am in my nature, a people pleaser.  I love making people happy. It is even more exciting when I feel accepted by others. Everyone wants to be wanted, however it becomes obvious when you aren’t truly happy with who you are.  Some of us get so wrapped up in loving the person that we want to be versus loving the person that we are.  You cannot love other people if you do not love yourself first.

When I began to truly focus on all of the positive aspects in my life and do the things that I love to do, my happiness increased and so did my hero.  It is so important for all of us to be our own heroes because nobody can disappoint you when the person you look up to is you.  Although I think it is important to admire others, we must admire everything about ourselves first.  When you take control of your own perspective and goals, amazing things can happen.  You can be happier, have more energy, make new goals and live a life that is worth living.

A few years ago, I told myself that I would never be able to run a marathon.  Today, I have run three.  Before entering college, I told myself that I wasn’t smart enough to be in the same classroom as my peers.  In 2010, I graduated from one of the top schools in the state.  I went from being on academic probation to being listed on the Academic Dean’s list.  Every year, I’ve told myself I wasn’t attractive but these past few years I told myself that I was and I’ve gotten more compliments than I ever have.

These personal accomplishments may seem like they happened over night, but they didn’t.  I had to work at them, I had to carry myself differently, I had to change my perspective and I had to find my hero.  One day I told myself that I was tired of feeling lost and I was tired of seeing other people’s accomplishments.  That was the day that I decided that I have no one to blame but myself for every negative thought and lack of motivation.  If you have a goal, imagine yourself accomplishing it, even if it is as simple as going to work on time.

Make small changes and eliminate things in your daily routine that hold you back.  I would go on Facebook and constantly compare myself to all of my friends.  I decided to not go on it as much and forced myself to focus on things that would help me grow.  I would read, create art or continue training for the next big race.  I decided not to buy magazines that were geared towards looking better or buying the best beauty product.  Instead I bought magazines that teach me how to exercise correctly, introduced me to groups and non-profits to explore.  I got off of my ass and went on walks instead of watching T.V.  When you start doing things for yourself and things that you enjoy, you realize that you are not too old to do the things that you have always wanted to do.

When I was little I was extremely shy and every sport that I would try that I wasn’t good at immediately, I would quit.  Gymnastics didn’t work because the other girls were “better” than I was.  I didn’t continue running club in middle school because I discouraged myself.  I didn’t even try soccer even though I had the uniform already because I took myself too seriously and automatically assumed that every girl would be faster and more talented than me.  What I didn’t realize at the time was that these things that I wanted to do were meant to be for fun and that fun can be experienced at any age.  That is why I joined an adult gymnastics class, I joined Cross Country and continue to run.  One day I will play on a soccer team.  Just because you didn’t try something or accomplish something when you were younger, doesn’t mean it is too late to take that step when you are older.  *It also doesn’t mean that you have to feel shitty about yourself because someone else has accomplished something that you have not.

* *Every individual is unique.  You will encounter people that have accomplished or have experienced things that you have not.  This doesn’t mean that you are any less of a person than they are.  Chances are, there is something that you have done that they have not experienced.  I had a tendency to put myself down when I would hear about or see someone progressing and experiencing something that I haven’t encountered.  Instead of focusing on feeling great about myself, I let their satisfaction with their selves override my own joy. This stops you from focusing on yourself and doesn’t allow you to find your hero.  One must cancel the pity party and put a stop to being a downer.

To progress as a person, I needed to find myself first.  I needed to dig deep and recognize all of the great things that exist in my life.  In order for me to become my own hero, I developed a new outlook and positivity.  Sometimes it may take us several tries and steps, however it is worth the trials and tribulations. You may hate yourself one day but are up on a pedestal the next.  That is what life is about though.  It wouldn’t be worth living if there was no roller coaster to ride.  You wouldn’t grow as a person if your life didn’t have room for it.   At the end of the day, the number one person is you.  You deserve to Be*Your Own Hero.*