‘Ready for my love story’

“TO love at all is to be vulnerable,” wrote British author C.S. Lewis.

These words resonated deeply with me as I embarked on my journey of self-discovery and love in college.

Growing up, I constantly felt like I needed to hide behind humour, masking my insecurities about not fitting in.

This approach, while providing a sense of safety, held me back from truly embracing myself and experiencing life fully.

Yashila: College has been a transformative journey not only in academics, but also in learning to love myself.Yashila: College has been a transformative journey not only in academics, but also in learning to love myself.

However, college offered a fresh start. Surrounded by a diverse group of people, I felt a sense of belonging I never knew before.

Joining clubs, making new friends, and exploring new activities blossomed new confidence within me. It was like stepping into a world of vibrant colours after years of living in shades of grey.

Fuelled by this newfound confidence, I finally felt ready to explore the world of dating. Yet, the shadows of my past insecurities lingered.

College movies painted a picture of effortless romance – a meet-cute, a spark, and happily ever after. Reality, of course, is far more nuanced.

The memories of feeling unseen in secondary school still whispered doubts, making me wonder if anyone would ever truly like me for who I was.

When I did meet someone, fear kept me from fully embracing the connection. I questioned his affection, wondering if he saw the same girl I spent years hiding.

I even worried what others might think, a fear rooted in the years I spent feeling judged and overlooked. Public displays of affection felt out of reach, like a privilege I didn’t deserve.

Looking back, I realise the harsh critic within was the biggest obstacle in my journey. I hadn’t acknowledged the incredible woman I had become – strong, kind, and full of potential.

Seeing my friends navigate their relationships with confidence and self-assuredness became a turning point. It dawned on me that I was holding myself back and that I needed to silence those inner doubts, embrace the person I was, and believe in the love I deserved.

College has been a transformative journey not only in academics, but also in learning to love myself.

I may still carry the echoes of my past insecurities, but they no longer define me. I’ve learnt to speak up for myself, believe in my worth, and open my heart to the possibility of finding love.

This journey of self-discovery has been the most valuable lesson I’ve learnt so far. It’s a lesson not only for me, but for anyone who has ever felt unseen or unheard.

We all deserve to find our own voices, shed our invisibility cloaks and step into the light, ready to embrace the love and joy that life has to offer.

Yashila, 22, a student in Perak, is a participant of the BRATs Young Journalist Programme run by The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (Star-NiE) team. For updates on the BRATs programme, go to facebook.com/niebrats.

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