For my entire young adult life, I’ve regularly drafted letters in my head, desperate for someone to save me from a dangerously low self-esteem. I’ve attempted the words during showers, while mentally preparing for prom months before and after rejecting an offer to go dancing due to a physical inability to step outside dressed in the appropriate attire.

I am turning 21 this year and still feel and look like a 12 year old. I have never worn a stylish outfit, applied make-up, or cut my hair differently. My hair stayed restrained in a ponytail throughout most of high school. I constantly battle body image issues and am afraid to wear anything other than the same pair of jeans, a tank top, and a jacket. Half of my wardrobe consists of clothes I do not wear outside the nonjudgmental safety zone of my room.

Two summers ago I underwent a spinal fusion to fix a crooked back and planned to make it my transformation. Unfortunately, though the surgery was successful, it backfired and after a weight fluctuation, I ended up socially phobic and imprisoned myself indoors. It was not until my father’s sudden death last December that I had to ultimately face reality and live both for him and for me.

I am now timidly asking, slightly begging, and whole-heartedly praying for help in any form. I do not know how to make that first step of change. I know I can be so much more if only I felt that confidence many women appear to encompass and embody.Help.