So many times I’ve been worried about what people thought, if they were judging me for one thing or another. People that I loved, people that I was sure I didn’t care about, even absolute strangers. As women in this society, we are taught from a very early age to not be too conspicuous, to be a certain weight, wear our hair a certain way, even what clothes to wear and I must admit that for a very large portion of my life, I cared very deeply what people thought of me. My self image was very poor, indeed. (I know that men suffer from these things as well, but right now I’m taking to the Girls.)
Being a woman of a certain size, I’ve had my own struggles, I used to make sure that my hair was in order, that my makeup was carefully applied, that my clothes were appropriate, that my bag matched my shoes – even to go to the gas station. I wouldn’t have anyone think that I didn’t care for my appearance. Even though I’m sure there were people who did. Even now, I’m sure there are people that think that I should just eat less, or exercise more. Or not eat fast food. When the truth is that I haven’t eaten fast food in years and do quite a bit to ensure that myself and my family eat whole, nutritious, healthy food. See how ingrained this is? Even here, as I write this, I’m trying to justify myself. Old habits die hard.
Even women I know who would never judge someone else by their appearance, judge themselves – harshly. So why is that, do you think?
We Are Conditioned to Think That We Are Not Enough
And I call bullshit.
In the last few years I have become way less likely to avoid a situation because I don’t think I “look the part”. It’s been a struggle and of course there are those voices that will tell you over and over again that you aren’t enough. That you need to be more attractive, weigh less, have the right house, car, bag, camera, etc. Whatever it is that you’re less than secure about – that’s what the voice won’t stop screaming.
I made a friend who is also passionate about photography and he would casually snap pictures of me and share them on Facebook – I found them to be horrifying and I would panic, untag myself – sometimes, I’d even ask that they be deleted. Then friends started to ask about having pictures taken with me as they had none of us, together. I began to realize that my children didn’t have any pictures of us together either. That was a hard truth to face. So I let it go. Just like that, I decided that I wouldn’t worry about the pictures, and I set up my timeline so that pictures I had been tagged in, didn’t show up automatically on my timeline and I could approve the ones I liked. The others would still be on Facebook, but not on my timeline and that gave me some sense of control over it. And then a crazy thing happened, I found that I was starting to enjoy the pictures… well, some of them. But I enjoyed seeing myself surrounded by friends, having fun, making music, enjoying my children.
And then I started to use video as a social media tool. One of my 100 Things To Do This Year was to get comfortable on video. And I’m doing it. And you know what? I’m feeling good about it. I know that I have so much to bring to people, so much that I can help them with and I’m not going to get to do that if I’m hiding in my house.
And I know that you have wonderful things to bring about too… And what if, someone who desperately needs your help, never finds you because you’re not comfortable that you don’t “look the part”, and they never get the help that they need to bring about their big, beautiful dream?
So What Can You Do About It?
The very first step is to surround yourself with people who think the world of you. Why wouldn’t people love you? You’re kind, you’re fun, you help when you can, and you have your very own gifts to give to the world. You have brought to the planet, things that only you can bring to life. It’s true, you are one of a kind and you deserve people in your life who celebrate you. If you have plenty of people in your life who value, love, and respect you; Brava! You’ve got a great start. If you don’t – start looking for them. Join some organizations, online or off. Love to sew? Find a group that focuses on that. Anything that you love to do is just a Google search away from like minded people. And don’t spend a lot of time with people who are less than loving toward you. They may love you, they may just not know how to show it in a positive way. That’s not your problem. You don’t have to spend time with dysfunction. And if you’re going to build this big, beautiful life, you have to make sure that you’ve got all the materials that you need. That relative who has to point out to you what they think is wrong with you, “for your own good”? Stop taking their calls. Wait. You’re not ever calling them are you? You know you don’t have to, right? Let it go. Make room for people who know how awesome you are!
And then? Act on it. Get out there and do those things that you know you’re here to do. And I promise – it will get easier. And you will be fabulous. And if you need a little help, you know where to find me. You can absolutely improve your self image. If I did it, so can you. And those voices? Some days I don’t hear them at all.