One of the weirder parts of growing up is recognizing how many things that seemed like they were set in stone were actually mutable. As a teenager, it can be so easy to fall into rigid patterns of thinking: I'm this kind of a person; I'll never be that kind of a person. It's especially true when it comes to insecurities: to the not-yet-fully-formed teenage brain, the things that make you feel self-conscious can feel eternal and inescapable. But they usually aren't.
Over the weekend, writer Ashley C. Ford asked a relatively simple question on Twitter: What's something you used to hate about yourself that you now consider a strength?
The responses were wide-ranging. Several people responded with physical attributes they've come to appreciate: Phillip Picardi of Teen Vogue commented on his killer eyebrows, while Toronto writer Anne Thériault mentioned her "extensive" nose.
Other people focused on less tangible qualities. Many noted that sensitivity and empathy, which may not have always served them well as teenagers, are valuable assets for adults to have.
It's hard to read these and not be transported back to that time when you were hyper-aware of everything that made you different, or everything you were told was wrong about you. For so many people, being a teenager meant constant self-policing.
Several people shared stories of severe difficulties and discrimination, of the strength they built up after being subjected to things completely outside of their control.
There's no easy way to go from self-critical to ultra-confident. Part of people who responded to the thread described is the freedom leaving behind that time and place when insecurities are consistently being magnified (isn't high school great?!?).
But another part of it is self-acceptance. Many psychologists who study self-perception say that feeling compassion towards yourself is an important part of accepting even the things you don't like. That sounds trite, but it's not easy. There's so much to be gained from approaching your insecurities from a place of compassion — considering bookmarking this thread for the next time you forget to do that.
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