Nicole Richie on Accepting Her Troubled Past: 'I'm Glad I Was So Beastly in Front of the World'

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Throughout her teens and twenties, Nicole Richie's drug, weight and legal issues became tabloid fodder, but now, the fashionista is opening up about why she feels grateful for her “beastly” past.

The married mother of two reflects on the ups and downs of her personal life in a compelling new essay for the Lenny Letter.

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Having recently marked her 35th birthday, the former reality star notes the importance of reflection, which she often does with girlfriends or while listening to her rocker husband, Joel Madden, “make fun of the younger version of me.” However, she admits facing up to her past can be harder when she’s out in public.

“That’s a very different picture, one of danger, darkness, and shame,” she writes, in the essay. “Moments of congratulation and celebrating who I am do not come without strangers pointing out how dark my life once was. I hear a lot of ‘Wow, you once looked like this, but now you look like this!’ and ‘You once were wild, and now you’re an angel!'"

Richie goes on to discuss the danger of accepting and believing other people's views of her, noting that “playing someone else’s version of you all the time keeps you from actualizing yourself.”

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While she says stopping herself from the easiness and “laziness” of believing that she is the person others see her as can be challenging, the television personality and fashion designer reveals her biggest lesson has been building the confidence to “be my own version of anything.” She adds that the troubles of her youth now enhance her life and have helped with her current state of acceptance and self-love.

“It is no secret that I have, at times, taken advantage of my time on this planet,” she shares. “And as much as I have to look at those moments and learn from them, it’s important for me to have gratitude for that time, too. Not shame. Being ashamed of your life is not OK.”

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“I am actually extremely thankful I was so beastly in front of the world for a few reasons,” she adds. “It’s so bad in people’s minds that there’s nothing that can embarrass me now. I got a little surprise gift of freedom! I also truly believe if I didn’t have so many eyes on me, it would’ve been easier for me to slip back into my reckless behavior. I had people rooting me on and watching me at a time when I needed that.”

“Mostly, the utter freedom I experience from having all of my past out in the open allows me to truly accept and embrace my former self, allowing her and every subsequent version of me to know that we are going to be OK, because we are not static,” Richie concludes. “And I don’t have to worry someone is going to put an embarrassing picture up on Facebook — the worst is already in strangers’ heads. How cool is that?!”<p>See more on Richie and how her kids influence her work in the video below.