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Girl In The Mirror

For as long as I can remember, I’ve known without a doubt that God called me to sing and write music, but it wasn’t until I was in 7th grade that I realized how deep the calling was and just a few short months of my life. At 13, he would forever change the course of the years ahead.

Many little girls dream of being a cheerleader – wearing the signature uniform, somersaulting across the floor of a crowded gymnasium and smiling brightly at the top of a pyramid. But what happens if you fall off the top? Well, this is the story of a girl who fell hard and got back up – and how you can too.

I loved nothing more than cheering with my friends, it was an amazingly fun part of my life. But in 7th grade, our new coach turned a light hobby into a waking nightmare. Sounds silly, right? You’re probably asking yourself, “Did the coach grow horns and chase us with fire pom-poms?” No, it wasn’t that bad, but what happened left emotional scars that took years to heal.

In the beginning, he did subtle things, like spending too much time “constructively” criticizing the things I routinely get wrong, or telling me I’d look “much prettier” without my bangs. This poking and prodding continued for a few months until it reached a breaking point one day during training when I didn’t fit into a formation with the other girls.

“Aubrey, you are TOO MUCH! You are nothing but a BAG OF BONES! You need to eat MORE! You need to eat peanut butter, peanut butter, peanut butter!”

I remember hearing those words shouted in an otherwise silent gym full of parents, coaches and teammates. He then proceeded to give a full speech about me and my appearance letting the team down. Shaken to the core, I ran to the bathroom and burst into tears… and no one came to see if I was okay.

For the next few days, I lived in an environment that was a shell of who I used to be. I played the incident over and over in my head. I picked it apart until I got up off the floor again. Shockingly, no adults in the room stepped in to stop her, and no friends offered so much as a hug. His random comment about having to eat peanut butter and the irony that I already ate a peanut butter sandwich for lunch almost every day. I didn’t even think of that. One of the girls soon revealed to me that our coach had told them and the other teachers at school that she suspected I had an eating disorder.

I remember one day at practice looking at myself in the huge wall-to-wall mirror in the gym and comparing my frame to one of the other girls on the team. Her tanned and well-toned legs looked much more attractive than my stick-pale ones. “Why isn’t it good that I’m thin by nature?” “Why don’t I look like him?” “What can I do to change myself?” The questions ran through my head one after the other, a marathon of negativity with no finish line. My eyes scanned back and forth from his body to mine, and then the thought came, “I hate the way I look.”

The innocence is gone. It was like someone ripped off a blindfold I didn’t even know I had on and showed me how the world really looked and how I looked at it. Before that, I didn’t think much about how I looked. I was blessed to have a mom who always made me feel like the most beautiful girl in the world, but I was never one to dissect my looks. At 13, I suddenly felt hatred for someone my parents had raised me to love: myself.

Although everyone at my training that day fell on deaf ears to the terrible outburst, when I told my family what had happened, they started fighting for me and me to hold my trainer accountable for his actions. But I didn’t quit the team. I was defiant to finish my commitment and then vowed never to be a cheerleader again. However, because I stopped cheering the following year, I also lost all my friends who were not interested in me after I stopped waving and kicking them.

I hit the rock bottom of the earth.

I spent a year in prayer, riding an emotional roller coaster of anger, despair, and questioning God. I had lost myself so much that I didn’t know if I would ever find it again.

Then I did.

High school led me to the most genuine, good, loving friends who loved me for not being what I did. These are my friends to this day. God revealed to me the true definition of friendship and I felt acceptance like never before.

During this time, the themes in my songwriting started to change and I noticed a pattern, the songs were no longer about silly things that I wrote on a whim. The lyrics had meaning, purpose, and connected directly to my soul. Then I realized: I have something to say. Year by year, song by song, moment by moment, the value of my self-esteem has become my most precious possession, and something I will never let take away from me again.

Since then, it has become my mission to teach the priceless truth of self-worth to young girls and women everywhere through songs, conversations, and writings like this blog. Once you know your worth, the world opens up and you can say without a doubt: I am enough.

Beautiful, smart, funny, successful – these and countless other words that fall under the umbrella of what society expects us to be, but I’m here to tell you that you already are. You deserve to feel complete in your own skin. God Himself tells us that we are made in His image, and because He is in us, we cannot fail. If He is with us, who can be against us?

In the past, when I reflected on seventh grade, I was overcome with sadness and called it the worst time of my life, but now I thank God every day for this experience. How not? It made me who I am. It was on the road less traveled that I discovered the path God had for my life. We can all take those dark moments and ignite them into bright, blazing flames that light the way to a purposeful future.

I want to leave you with some words from a song I wrote when I was on the other side of my self-esteem. I hope you will reflect on them whenever you need them and find their meaning in your own life.

Staring into the glass is not reality
Worrying about mistakes that no one else can see
Silence the voices that tell you that you are inferior
And it will become much clearer who you are
Girl in the mirror

With love to all of you,

Aubrey

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