By GOWRI ABHINANDA
Freshman Noah Laurent said he is extremely confident when it comes to accepting himself as transgender. He first proclaimed he was transgender when he was eleven years old. Since then, he said he has taken the wheel behind his life, as self-love has taught him to appreciate himself more.
“Self-love is vital when taking control of your life; without self-love, you don’t respect yourself and that’s a real problem,” Laurent said. “Self-love is important, especially for me. In [the] Bay, because it’s a cut throat school, it makes it easy to just disregard your health and put yourself on auto pilot. It’s so avoidable with self-love, so you’re always in control.”
Laurent said he became a stronger individual by viewing himself as someone who is worthy of respect. He said this helped him tremendously when his classmates weren’t supportive of his identity.
“I was bullied all three years of middle school, and high school wasn’t the oasis and heaven I was promised,” Laurent said. “Self-love fills in the gaps when other people don’t accept you. It was hard for me in middle school and I do not think I would have survived [middle school] without self-love.”
Laurent said he always makes an effort to console his friends when they lack self-confidence by giving them pep talks.
“I know how it feels to be left out and hurt because you are different, but just accepting who you are is the best. When my friends are down like this, I like encouraging them,” Laurent said. “I want to make [my friends] feel worthy of respect. Sometimes you just need something to make you look at yourself positively again.”
Advanced Placement Psychology teacher and previous Helping Overcoming Problems Effectively (HOPE) club supervisor David Geller said he views the HOPE club as a phenomenal outlet to foster self-love and raise awareness about serious issues. He said the club helps students improve the way they view themselves.
“For the three years that I was the adviser [of HOPE], officers have been conducting seminars that help these students love themselves. I know a lot of students feel like outcasts and HOPE helps them realize they aren’t alone with teaching methods of acceptances,” Geller said. “When the [students] leave [HOPE], most of them feel like they belong [in the world] and have a positive attitude toward themselves.”
Senior President of HOPE Meghan Guestella said self-love is a factor she finds imperative to have faith in herself. However, she said it is often undermined by social media.
“Self-love is essential and is something that has been incredibly diminished. A big part of it is social media because it is a highlight reel which is when only the best of life is portrayed,” Guestella said. “A lot of people see these things on [social media] and it makes them think that their life is not as successful. You can have goals in life to get things, but without self-love you have no confidence, and without confidence, you can’t get anywhere.”
For Guestella, she said HOPE has been a major source of inspiration on her journey to obtain self-assurance for her and her peers. She said one method the club uses is for people to change the vocabulary they use when describing themselves.
“Something [HOPE] teaches is that self-image is important; that is where the vocabulary comes into play because the perception of who you are is what you become,” Guestella said. “You can make [your vocabulary] better or worse, and when you choose to make it better, you feel amazing.”
According to Guestella, HOPE is just one route to take to flourish as a person. However, she said the club has been successful in helping her and her peers cultivate a positive image of themselves.
“For me, helping other people makes me feel like I’m helping myself because you see people and talk to them and hear their experiences,” Guestella said. “HOPE definitely helps with self-acceptance and self-love.”
Like Guestella, Laurent said he finds self-love to be an essential force in life. Although he said it may be a difficult concept, he said it is one worth pursuing.
“Self-love has brought me acceptance, new friends and opportunities. When you truly discover self-love, you are able to open so many doors for yourself,” Laurent said. “I tell myself that I am worthy of love and acceptance and I try to accept myself little by little. I have become so much stronger.”