***My sisters and I are pleased to have a guest blogger, Ashley Prinzo here on The Kusi Life sharing her story in our “See the Happy” Series.
My cousin Nichole and I are two years apart, and we were raised more like siblings. Our mothers expected us to get along because we were both girls, but we didn’t. We fought over the dumbest things like who was going to sit in the front seat of the car or who was going to act as the teacher when we played school. She wanted to be in charge, and I didn’t like to be bossed around. I thought she was a brat. She thought I was annoying. Her little brother is the same age as me, so I always ended up playing video games with him.
When Nichole and I entered our early teens, it seemed pretty apparent that she was the prettier cousin, and I was always reminded of it. We don’t look related from the outside, but I always compared myself to her. She was a size zero and I was a size two. She didn’t share her clothes the same way she didn’t share her Barbie dolls. She didn’t want me stretching out her shirts with my large chest, but I thought it was her way of calling me fat. Regardless, our mothers forced us to apologize to one another and get along… no matter what.
We both worked at the same daycare when I was 18 and Nichole was 20. It’s a little hard to maintain a rivalry in a room full of needy toddlers, so we managed to form a friendship instead. We became really close when I turned 21 and I was allowed to go to bars with her. She was a lot more fun with a few drinks, and summer was right around the corner at the Jersey Shore. Guys thought I was the older cousin at the bars, and I used to think it was because of our looks, but it’s because of our personalities.
I hated that she was selfish when I was a kid, but now it’s something I truly admire about her. I thought Nichole and I would always be in competition, but I was wrong. Our differences allow us to compliment each other like when we worked together. She changes the diapers, and I feed them lunch. She’s good at making dinner, and I’m better at baking desserts. We both bring a new perspective to each other’s lives. I value her opinion even if I don’t agree with it. We have a relationship like our mother’s intended even if we are miles apart. Nichole is more than my cousin or best friend. She is my sister.
It’s a shame it took Nichole and I so long to become friends. I learned from her to never apologize for being myself. I need to forgive myself for years of self-hatred and general neglect to my own feelings. When Nichole and I argued when we were younger we were told to say sorry to one another, but no one warned us that everyone doesn’t deserve forgiveness. I grew up to accept apologies from all and maybe kept certain people in my life a little longer than they should have been. It messed with my self-worth. I see the good in everyone but myself.
I’m sorry when I’m not sorry. I’m the girl who says sorry when someone bumps into me. I empathize with others so much that I apologize on behalf of them. I was too busy forgiving everyone else that I forgot to check in with my own life. I’m the only one saying sorry, and I’m tired of looking for the good in others and being let down.
I began a self-love journey because it’s not fun to live in a world that you are uncomfortable in. I created www.AshleyPrinzess.com to normalize mental illness. It’s a place I can grow and start a conversation about living with anxiety and depression. I’m not on medication, but I’m working at a healthy diet, mindset, and exercise routine to help heal my internal sadness naturally. Mental health is important for everyone, and self-love is key when it comes to self-awareness. I was too busy saying sorry to everyone else, but that’s over now. I have no choice but to find the good in me while forgiving myself. It’s not an easy thing to do, but I’m committed.
So, I’m learning to be unapologetically myself like my cousin Nichole. At once she may have seemed self-centered, but now I understand. I don’t have to accept apologies from others because saying sorry doesn’t fix everything. I have forgiven others that haven’t apologized but never forgave myself for the same reason. Nichole found her happiness in marriage and a daughter like she always wanted, and I’m moving on to hopeful literary pastures in Boston, MA. Join me on my blog to follow my journey.
Ashley Prinzo is a writer from New Jersey. When she’s not writing, she likes binge eating, browsing adoptable dogs, and befriending local bartenders. She’s blogging about living with mental illness on www.ashleyprinzess.com. In her world, self-love is the queen, but self-care is the fun aunt.