Syracuse University student LaNia Roberts has already gained campus fame for her "Weather by LaNia" Snapchat Stories, which appear on Syracuse's Campus Story and receive about 5,000 daily views, reports the Daily Orange.
This week, Roberts gave a motivational speech titled "Love Yourself Unconditionally" at SU, where she is a freshman painting major.
"Beauty is learned. Beauty is something that we have learned over time," Roberts says. "Now I'm actually understanding that it's not other people accepting me that leads to happiness...We learn that if something is flawed, it's supposed to become something else. And I am learning that I, LaNia, my body, everything, it does not need to be like something else."
Her difficulties with self-love and self-acceptance started when she was a young child. In elementary and middle schools, she was often made fun of for her size, for her personality, for her height.
"I was bullied the most for being myself," Roberts says. "By the time middle school had ended, I knew I was outgoing, I knew I was funny. I knew I was all of these things, but I put these things in a big box and I put it in my closet. There was no taking those things out, because I was so afraid of people judging me for them. That outgoing girl, that funny girl, nobody knew her anymore."
When she was a sophomore in high school, she looked in the mirror and resolved to lose weight, get healthier, and start loving herself. She joined a track team, lost 50 pounds, and started painting self-portraits as a form of introspection to find the beauty in the little things about herself.
"When it comes to painting a self-portrait, I could turn those things that I didn't really love into something that was beautiful not only to me, but to others," Roberts, 18, says.
Over the next few months, she set two goals for herself: to become a risk-taker and to become the girl she always knew she was before she became a quiet, introverted girl years before. Three years later, Roberts' outlook had completely changed. She stood in front of the mirror getting ready to go out with her family, and she had an epiphany.
"I looked in the mirror and my love handles [were] poking out a little bit because my pants were fitting a little tight. I looked in the mirror, and I said, 'Oh, that doesn't look too good. But somebody's gonna love these love handles one day, so it doesn't even matter,'" Roberts says.
Through her motivational speech, she wanted to share her views, her thoughts, her opinions, and everything that she has learned about self-love and self-acceptance over the past few years. She wanted to touch at least one person in the crowd enough to help them start their own "road to unconditional love."
"I see beauty in everyone," Roberts says.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.