Self-doubt is something that everyone struggles with. Whether it’s wondering if you’re good enough for the baseball team or if you’re smart enough to pass your algebra test.

For me, self-doubt started when I was in middle school and wondering if I was thin enough for the boys in my grade?

Self-doubt has a funny way of sitting in the back of our brains and appearing at the most inconvenient times.

The 2015 movie ‘The Duff’ glorified the role of the “designated ugly fat friend.”

Middle school Carlie (me), however, did not feel glorified at all.

All of my friends had boyfriends and were really pretty. I was always the cute girls’ friend. I was a chunky, awkward middle schooler who grew into a slightly taller, chunky, awkward high schooler. By the time I was 16 I began to struggle with anxiety and depression.

I hated myself so much. I lost interest in living life. I wasn’t happy with the person I was.

At the end of 2015, two years after I graduated high school, I found out that I was pregnant which was incredibly terrifying for me. Ultimately, though, I knew that God had a plan for me. As I started to get bigger I was really self conscious. I was afraid that people would just see that I was getting fat and not that I was creating a human. Right before my due date I began to get awful stretch marks. In May 2016 I gave birth to the most perfect tiny human I have ever seen in my life.

From that day forward I decided that I would love myself for her.

The journey to self-love is difficult.

When my daughter, Lillyan was only a few weeks old my mother and I took her shopping. With every store we entered, I noticed how thin most of the other mothers were. But then I would look at their kids and see how old they were, all of them years older than Lillyan, and I felt better. I knew then that I didn’t have to look perfect two weeks after I had a baby. It was okay if my muscles weren’t toned and if I was incredibly pale.

Within the past year I have genuinely loved myself.

Every morning when I look in the mirror I’m so incredibly happy with myself. Not even just the way I look, but also the way I feel inside. I still struggle with anxiety and body image issues, but ultimately I am happy. I don’t stress over my imperfections because that’s what makes me different.

I’m human after all. We’re not meant to be perfect.

Now instead of looking at my pictures and pointing out all of the things that aren’t perfect about myself, I look at it and point out the things that I love. Whether it’s the way my hair was that day or how blue my eyes were or that my dimple was visible.

I love my selfies. I love myself.

I encourage YOU to take steps to love yourself. Look at how radiant your smile is today or how beautiful your eyes are. Or more important how kind and caring you are. Notice the little things that make you unique. I promise you won’t regret it.