‘Watch as I dive in’ to self-love


Senior Abby Shapiro sings proudly in the main lobby. For Shapiro, expressing herself through singing is more than just a performance, but a way to project her own confidence and self-love. Photo by Chase Goldstein

As a freshman in high school, I would belt “Shallow,” my favorite song from the movie, “A Star is Born.” At the top of my lungs, the lyrics, “I’m off the deep end, watch as I dive in,” flew out of my mouth in classrooms, the cafeteria and at tennis practice. After my numerous concerts, I became known as “The Shallow Girl.”                                  

Little did I know, those countless performances would follow me to my senior year. The nickname began to resurface when people would ask me to sing in class like I used to do. I felt laughed at and I thought people were making fun of me. Being confined to the label of “The Shallow Girl” made me think people only saw me as my freshman self.  

Throughout high school, people have continued to insult me by making snarky and offensive remarks about my personality and the way I act. I get told I’m too loud. Too much. Too embarrassing to be around. I have too much energy, and I need to “tone it down.” I have been called obnoxious, annoying, weird and other similar names.                                     

I believed for so long that if I took the insults as advice, the judgment would end. I thought I needed to change things about myself. Maybe I am too loud and should tone it down. Maybe I am too embarrassing and should change my behavior. These insecurities constantly bubbled inside of me and made me question other parts of my persona. Should I fix the way I dress? Remove my glasses? Straighten my curly hair?         

The constant criticism continued to nag at me and drag me down. It felt like my peers were telling me how I should act, rather than allowing me to be in control. I was told I was too much, and yet, I felt like I wasn’t enough.                                    

Looking back, I wish I could tell my past self that if I don’t like who I am, no one else will. I love singing “Shallow,” and I love performing for my classes. And if something brings me joy, whatever it may be, then I will prioritize my happiness over the opinions of others.          

Finding this self-love hasn’t been a one-step process. Whether it was through positive affirmations before bed, writing in a journal or speaking in front of the mirror, I would force myself to recite, “I am good enough, and I am worthy of my love.” I now surround myself with people who welcome my quirks and weirdness rather than tear me down. However, developing this appreciation continues to be a work in progress, and sometimes, the hurtful comments still get to me. If someone does make a snarky remark, I remind myself that it’s one person’s opinion and it doesn’t define who I am. I’m learning to cultivate my own self-worth to stop others from dictating how I feel about myself. I will not let, nor continue to let, people walk all over me.    

Now, I embrace my title as “The Shallow Girl,” and even bring back the occasional performance. At the end of the day, if I want to sing, I’m going to sing. And I’m going to unapologetically be my curly-haired, fun-loving, loud, glasses-wearing self who dresses the way I want to. People may always judge me and tell me to change, but I will not let them change me.