All Posts By:

Valeria Rigo

  • Articles

    I Don’t Need to be Perfect

    Growing up in high school, my best friend always seemed perfect to me. She is like a goddess, beautiful and with an amazing fit body, good at everything she does, all the boys love her. It might sound like an envious feeling but it actually isn’t, I love her and wish nothing but the best to her, but I did feel like I was never going to be not even a bit as beautiful as her. 

    I felt like her shadow sometimes. When we would go out, lines of boys chased her, and I wasn’t noticed by anyone. She is like one of those Instagram models with thousands of likes that show up on my news feed everyday, while most of my likes are from my mom. I assumed that she was perfect, that all the things in her life were perfect, that nothing ever went wrong for her and all she had were happy days. That kind of perfection was something that to me, I could never achieve, and it hurt me more than I wanted to. 

    But the years went by, we grew up, and as life became more complex and our relationship became closer, I realized: she was dealing with her own demons too. She thought she wasn’t as good as someone else, as pretty as someone else, as funny as someone else. All the insecurities I had when I compared myself to her, she had with others. 

    So I understood. All of these things I’m about to say might sound like a great cliché, but as much as a cliché it is, we constantly need to be reminded of this: Perfection doesn’t exist. Everything we see (on social media, on TV, and even with people we know and look up to) is not as it seems, and everyone is dealing with their own demons.

    That is an encouragement to not only be nicer to ourselves, and know that there might be someone out there feeling we are perfection when we actually have our own stuff to deal with, but also an encouragement to be nicer to others. Maybe, and although it might seem little to us (when my friend tells me “I look awful in this outfit” I cannot believe she is thinking such a thing), other people are having a hard time and they just try to hide it. 

    And know that we are perfect in the way we are. That our little mistakes and things we might not like about ourselves, might be things that others could want to have. I complain a lot about things in myself (that I’m too tall or too big, for example) that others wish they had. Maybe the meaning of perfection is imperfection, is being happy with the way they are. I work very hard every day to be happy with myself, and I truly hope everyone finds time and energy to do the same 

  • Articles, Body Image, Confidence, GirlSpring.com, Health, Lifestyle

    5 Small Tips for Loving Yourself More

    body confidence

    Everyone who knows me is aware of the fact that I’ve struggled with my body confidence throughout my whole life. My extra pounds and my acne when I was younger, being taller and bigger than everyone, maybe too muscular when I used to weightlift or having no muscles at all now that I’m recovering from an injury. There’s always something to complain about my body or the way that I look… I can never be truly satisfied. 

    These past few months, after a guy that I was seeing decided to end our relationship because he “couldn’t love me if I didn’t love me”, I’ve decided to change the pattern. See, since I had been feeling the same thing for almost 22 years and it wasn’t helping me at all. Maybe it was time to try something else! And I still don’t know how, but I’ve managed to make huge changes in my confidence. So what better way to celebrate these changes than to share them with everyone else?

    Here are 5 small tips that I’ve used to accept and care for myself more:

    1. Tell the voice in your head to shut up. I know… It’s like every time I look at myself in the mirror, or I see myself in a picture, there’s an instant voice yelling “ugh… disgusting!” Well, it’s time to make a conscious effort to shut it down. I understand it will be hard, but try covering it up with positive thoughts such as “I look amazing!” “I feel great!” At first, it might seem unnatural, but after a while, you can revert the habit.
    2. Take a look at your beautiful self in the mirror. If you feel uncomfortable with yourself, it’s highly likely that you avoid seeing yourself in a mirror. I used to close my eyes a lot when I had to see myself in some sort of reflection. I didn’t want to face what was in front of me. It’s time to quit that: see yourself carefully, every little part of you. Look at yourself in the eyes and get to know who you are. 
    3. Make a list of all the wonderful things you’ve done in your life and what you’re capable of doing. When I feel sad, I remember something amazing that I did a while ago: maybe that time that I did stand-up comedy on TV, or how strong I was in a sports competition. I also take time to be grateful for what’s to come, for the many things that I am capable of doing. Body confidence to me is not about how I look, but about what I am able to do. When you take some time to remember what you’re good at and the things you’re passionate about, you accept your own self more.
    4. Be careful with social media! Social media can be very toxic. When your feed is full of pictures of what beauty is supposed to feel like, or hurtful tips about “how you should achieve your summer body” (ALL bodies are summer bodies!) it’s very hard to get out of the negative spiral. We spend lots of hours surfing through social media, so my suggestion is to clean up your following list. Be careful with who you take advice from, and try to find other inspiring things rather than just pictures of other people. 
    5. Get out. Go for a walk! Work out! Play the piano! Do whatever makes you happy. Appreciate time with yourself, do things that are healthy for you, follow your passions. I find that when I have an amazing day just with myself, I am the happiest when I go to sleep.

    Learning to love yourself can be a long journey, here are some tips on self-care that can help you along the way!

  • Articles, Bullying, GirlSpring.com

    The Past Has Past

    free from the past

    My experience in high school wasn’t the best. I can now easily close my eyes and remember hundreds of bad stories: that first day when I was called gross and fat, another when someone threw a shoe at me, one of my many birthdays that no one attended, how much I suffered at P.E. class.

    I admire myself sometimes. I remember how young I was, all I had to go through, and how despite all of it, I never quit. I showed up, day after day to school, even though there were so many excuses I wanted to use to stay at home, where I could safely watch TV and get hugs from my mom.

    But now I’m 21 (almost 22!) years old, and I’ve done so much. I’ve become a fully grown woman, I’ve done huge efforts to change so many things that I didn’t like about me. Just to name a few things: I’ve lived abroad on my own twice, fell in love so many times, found new amazing friends, won awards at University, and had 2 great jobs. So… how come I can’t forget my high school years? How come I still get sad or angry when I remember the bad times?

    I like to think that these stories turned me into the person that I am today. I can see the glass half empty and say “I should be so sad that these things happened!”, or I can do the right thing, which is knowing that they have indeed turned me into who I am, because I am a warrior.

    Yes, a warrior! I’m a girl with dreams and hopes and I’m willing to overcome whatever challenge that gets in front of me. I’m unstoppable, and I have the power to achieve whatever I want.

    And for any girls in high school (or in any stage in life, because unfortunately, grown-ups can be as mean as children sometimes) experiencing bullying: You’re better than this. I know sometimes it feels like they are right, and all those things they say or do get to you. I know you don’t understand why this is happening, or why you deserve this — and truth is, you don’t. But you’re strong, you can get through it. So many people love you, and your current reality doesn’t define you.

    When I was younger and crying in the high school bathroom because someone had called me something, it truly felt like that was the only way things would ever be. But now I can say that life has given me so many more beautiful memories than those. And while it is true that on some bad nights I close my eyes and remember the ugly times, I can only be thankful for them: they have turned me into the amazing person I am today, and the even more wonderful one I will be in the future.

  • Articles, GirlSpring.com

    I Don’t Want To Be Alone On My Birthday!

    Birthday cake

    Today marks the date: it’s one month until my birthday! Every year, it’s the same old story: I get excited, I think “this year I’m going to have the best birthday!”, and for some reason, things never work out.

    Birthdays, according to movies and society, are supposed to be that time when everyone who loves you brings out the best in them, is there for you, wants you to enjoy and be happy. When I growing up, my mom would make sure that every single one of my birthdays was the best one. Now that I’m older, she left that task up to me… and I keep failing at it.

    I try to examine and analyze the idea in my head to understand what keeps going wrong. The first thing that pops into my mind is remembering this exact same time last year, when walking to the restaurant that I was going to have dinner with my parents at, I said “I think I’m truly happy now”. But things were different: I had a stable job, a boyfriend, and many different groups of friends. I now have to be accepting of the fact that it has all changed; I recently came back from living abroad so the stable job is gone, the boyfriend has been replaced with disastrous dating app dates, and I am no longer surrounded by so many people.

    So if the birthday is all about being surrounded by loved ones, and this stage of my life is not as full of love as I wish it was, how am I supposed to “feel special on my day”? Most people could argue that all of this thinking is nonsense, I shouldn’t worry because it’s just another day. And while I agree with that, I also see it as a sample of my life, as a showcase of what needs fixing.

    Yes… I need to admit I’m a bit more alone than I wish I was. I do enjoy time with myself, I’m an independent person and have many dreams to chase; I do not want to surround myself with people just for the sake of it, or be desperate and accepting of anyone’s love. But I do wish I had enough friends to spend my birthday with.

    Maybe I should just learn to accept what is going on at this time, hope things will be better next year, and move on. As much as the glass is half empty, it’s also half full: there are a few good friends that have stayed, my family is always here for me, I’m healthy and have many amazing things coming. I also believe it’s finally time to work on the most important relationship I have: the one with myself. We’ve been on and off for years, and it’s time to get back on track.

    Focusing on the positives, and loving myself, will bring joy, and possibly, the right amount and quality of relationships to feel happy not only on my birthday, but every day. It’s just a matter of believing things will be okay… because they will be.

  • GirlSpring.com

    Body Confidence

    body confidence

    “I hate my body! My belly looks fat and my legs are huge. I really wish I could get plastic surgery”. This is what I overheard two girls rant on for more than an hour at the gym. We had all just finished our amazing indoor-cycling class and were waiting to shower in the bathroom.

    They went on and on about how no one would ever like them like that, how they felt disgusting, how there wasn’t even one thing they loved about their bodies. And what’s even worse, every time one of them said something they hated about themselves, the other one agreed — It was like a very toxic support group. The whole thing finally ended when one of them saw the time and noticed she was late for work.

    I love my indoor-cycling class. It’s 45 minutes where I can be myself, rock to the music, and give it my all. I feel sexy and strong, I feel like no challenge is big enough for me. Yes, my legs definitely hurt, I can barely breathe, and I’m fully covered in sweat, but I feel so alive and happy. It’s a time where I don’t have to worry about anything, and just focus on the moment.

    So I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Two incredibly beautiful girls, who instead of focusing on what their bodies were capable of, of the great things they had allowed them to do, were focusing on the image they saw in the mirror. Instead of being grateful for being healthy and strong and having a beating heart and the choice of doing whatever they wanted, were worrying about “the extra pounds I’m carrying”.

    I was outraged. Maybe I should have interfered and said something, but I didn’t want to become the “creepy, body positive girl” in the gym. And truth is, I’m exactly like them. As mad as I was, as I stepped into the shower, the first thoughts that went on my mind (and I have them almost every time), were about things I disliked in my body: about how my belly looks flat but a bit loose, how I wish my arms were stronger, how I’m naturally bigger than everyone and I hate it. How maybe I should stop eating X and Y, work out more hours a week (than the 8 hours I already do), how my body looked way better before I had shoulder surgery due to a sports injury.

    I then understood that I was so mad because for once, hearing these girls complain, I was listening to myself. The reaction I had is probably the one my friends and mom do every time they hear me complain about my body, or they get my almost daily text message of “I look so ugly today”.

    Truth is, my relationship with my body has always been awful. I grew up a very chubby child, then went on to become an overweight teenager, and at some point lost a lot of weight, being the type of skinny that people worry about. Afterwards, I decided to start doing weightlifting, and became bigger and stronger. But now, having just had surgery and very finding myself being very limited in what I can do, I am at a position where I’m not exactly aware of where my body’s at.

    So some days I wake up and I love what I see in the mirror. These are the greatest days: when I walk on the street and feel like the fearless woman I am, I wear whatever I want, and I can’t stop smiling at everyone. But then the darkest times come and leaving the house seems like a nightmare. When you’re in a bad relationship with yourself, you can’t have healthy relationships with others, they say, and I can confirm that it’s completely true.

    I’m grateful and happy for the things I have in my life: my family, my career, my friends, all the experiences I’ve been able to have in my 21 years in this planet. But just as these girls were forgetting about the amazing things their body allowed them to do in the class, I keep forgetting about all of these, to focus on some trivial aspect I don’t like.

    So to the voice in my head yelling that I’m not as great as I should be, my body also isn’t, or whatever creative insult I’ve come up with for myself that day, I say: enough is enough. I am whatever I want to be. If I say I’m beautiful and strong, if I want to rock a fashionable crop top or dance to some sexy music or get the best grades of the whole class. I might have a billion insecurities, cry twice a week, and complain about the weather more than the average person — but that’s what makes me, me. And regardless of anything, I love myself.