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ever since I can remember, I have based my value on marks, on grades, on percentages

on sheets of white paper with black, standardized text, asking standardized questions 

questions that mould intelligence, creativity, individuality of a beautiful child’s mind into a numerical value

a score out of 100

a red-biro fraction in a red-biro circle inked in the top right-hand corner.

that ink seeps into my skin, is etched into my soul; carving out what it means to be liked, to be successful, to be worthy,

worthy of love

worthy of being far, far away from that fear of failure and all that we are told comes with it;

worthy of holidays, of a nice house, of presents at christmas

things us children are told come hand-in-hand with ‘financial security’, with ‘a stable career’

with money

with happiness.


but now I am not a child, and I know that this simple equation is not all it seems

although I will never forget that my one ‘B’ grade in an ocean of sparkling ‘A’s’ was in maths

I still can believe my less than satisfactory brain when I think

that this mathematical equation is one that is,

in fact,


a subtracted mark from that all important score

a mark I would agonize over; would question teachers about 

never feeling satisfied

never feeling proud

never feeling quite good enough.


and as a girl becomes a woman

it is too easy to fall into into another trap society has set 

placing self-worth on the external 

placing self-worth on our image or on our ‘health’

where in reality as our physical health maybe momentarily increases

our mental health steadily dwindles.

there was a day when i looked into the mirror to see the progress of my teeth growing in 

not the progress of my ‘abs’ as a marker of my ‘fitness’

a day when we were told our ‘bottoms were a seat’ and not a marker of attractiveness

of admiration

of envy

a day when we did not know beauty was linked to an image of a ‘perfect’ female form.


the word anxiety creeps its way through an innocent child’s skin

red ink, swirling, into my bloodstream

and settling

deep in my stomach

wrapping one arm around the space that once, I trusted 

a space that so effortlessly nourished and cared for me

and the other arm around my mind

it’s fingers skillfully placing a tint over my eyes


making me see life through glasses of fear

of hate

of insecurity 

before closing it’s arms together, in a toxic embrace

forming a link between my worth and what I choose to enter this area of my body

or what I choose not to

creating irrational fears that see-saw from being so obsessed with health

wanting to improve

wanting to be better

to not feeling worthy of the money that nourishment costs

hidden behind the frugality of a loan-dependent student 

to not feeling worthy of nourishment unless, maybe, if following certain rules

because following rules is a perfectly measured recipe that bakes a sugar-free, fat-free cake of success


a see-saw between the achievement of being so clean, so pure

and the achievement of being empty and thriving

a see-saw between the fear of never reaching my best self

and the feeling 

of not having one


because if even if that red ink writes 100/100 

like it has on occasion for now-trivial past achievements


even if i rebuild my outer shell that has shrunken in the laundry

as my self-esteem was washed away with the suds of perceived ’imperfection’


even if what i see in the mirror does finally satisfy me, even with a number on the scale that does not inflict worry or concern


even if the red ink completes that circle

once again encompassing my worth and compacting it into the top right hand corner of a piece of paper i’ll never see again


would I then be freed from this never-ending cycle that society has created?

these expectations, ideals


the fears that almost are ingrained into our genetic makeup


the circle of the grade

the circle of the percentage

the circle of my stomach

the circles of my eyes

the circulating thoughts in my mind


maybe then

I would feel

good enough.






- Alexandra Murray-Reynolds (@thehippychickpea)

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Uniqueness given but too insecure to discover it.

You are inferior, they said. Alone. Not enough.

My tries to adjust failed bitterly, my opinions tossed by winds and waves.

The illusion of earning my affection through meeting others expectations crushed me.

The voices became louder.

Pulling back from my outer world, trying to create a perfect one in my mind, didn't work.

All I felt was a crazy mess in my inside, growing bigger while my attempts to fight my way out of it failed.

All of it changed with a small whisper.

And as soon as I started listening, it became louder.

Louder than all the other voices. Louder than my own insecurities. With a mighty roar it silenced my storm.

One word and it was done.

Then gently and loving, it began to tell me who I really was, who I really am.





Uniquely created to represent the One who created me.

My thoughts began to untangle, my heart to heal. Slowly discovering the world inside of me through the eyes of the Artist.

My true self is what I found.

My true self is what I find.

The start of a lifelong journey.

I fell in love with it.

He has started and we will continue.

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to unabashedly love myself through it all

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It seems as though it is the general consensus that 2017 was a year of immense growth coupled with incredible suffering; for me it was no different. During the first half I decided to wear only my natural hair instead of various forms of extensions/braided hairstyles, until I came to a point where I found myself wholly acknowledging my own beauty, accepting my little afro. It was hard, but I overcame…

It’s funny to me, how when it seems as though we are victorious, there comes one “last” giant test to win the battle, or “level up” in this journey of life. For me, it came in the form of Celiac Disease, where my scalp began to react to certain shampoos and I would scratch/pick at my hair. Couple that with an excessive amount of stress and you have yourself a recipe for trichotillomania, at least in my case. I have, for as long as I can remember, sporadically picked at my eyebrows, only to realize this happened when I looked and one eyebrow was barren at the top in comparison to the other. Once I noticed this, after looking down countless times at my shirt to notice it covered in hair and my partner encouraging me to get my fingers away from my scalp, I installed dreadlocks in hopes that when I got them out I would no longer subconsciously pick.

... However, right after I installed these dreadlocks - in hopes that I could cover my tracks out of a bad habit - I noticed again, countless times a day, hair on my shirt - a reminder to keep my fingers away from my hair.

Nothing had changed.

My mindset hadn’t changed.

Until finally, the dust had settled from 2017 and I knew I had the mental fortitude/time. Because let's be real y’all, mental health is everything, but time heals all. I decided I was no longer going to consciously feed my anxiety. I would have more time now that I had graduated and the universe had given me more time to breathe. My soul, however, needed to recharge I needed to have healthy hair again, and not subconsciously pick. I toyed with the idea of dreadlocks again (fauxlock really), because c'mon I looked GOOD. But my soul needed more than that, it needed a boost.

I found this decision I was playing around with in my mind to be a shadow of who I fought to no longer be, someone who depended on longer hair to feel feminine, to feel beautiful. Although my intentions were fueled by love there was also a lot of anxiety and fear in there, because my hair was in bad shape. But my health was more important, and I was putting it in jeopardy. So, I decided to shave my hair. I didn’t make a big fuss about it. I just told Stephen, the day before we went, that it was something I intended to do and something I was sure about. I also texted a few friends who I knew I would see the following day that, saying that this was something I was going to do, to keep me accountable. And let me tell you…

I feel the same, by the same I mean like myself. I feel like a warrior woman. Because I chose to still find beauty, genuine, undeniable, raw organic, non-GMO beauty in myself despite societies standards, not just the western painting of beauty but a standard mirrored in even the most free-thinking open-minded corners of the world. If you find yourself stuck between societies agreements and yourself, always choose yourself. Self-love is everything. If it really is all a dream, participate, lucid dream and form your own reality. To unabashedly love thyself and honor your truth is the greatest way to honor yourself, and this life.

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