Feeling Comfortable In Your Own Skin
Loving Yourself 101
To those who know me, it may seem odd -- maybe even hypocritical -- that I would write about self-confidence. When it comes to my appearance, I'm notoriously hard on myself. Even after losing 75 lbs to reach my size 5 goal, I still feel despair at the little gut I have left. I stress about my acne (ironic, I know...), I worry about my few grey hairs and I tend to dress more conservatively than most of my friends. Still, I think I have a thing or two to tell others about being comfortable in your own skin, and here's why....
There's an attitude, an inside...not so funny joke, if you will, among girls who used to be fat. "Once and fat-kid, always a fat-kid". It doesn't matter if you develop anorexia and advertise your shoulder blades at fashion shows, you will always see yourself as a fat-kid. Once you've been fat, you never see yourself quite the same way again. You will translate that little bit of loose skin around your waist as grotesque fat that refuses to let you live in peace. You'll look at chocolate chip cookies the way girls look at an abusive ex -- bad for you in every possible way, and yet so, SO tempting.
I've yet to find a remedy to fat-girl-sydrome, but I can tell you one thing for sure -- other people do not, I repeat, DO NOT, see you the way you see yourself. I met my partner a year after I lost my weight, and he has a hard time believing I was ever fat, let alone seeing me that way now. Sometimes, you just have to trust that the way other people perceive you is perhaps more accurate than how you perceive yourself.
If my 30 years have taught me anything, it's that your body is the only thing you truly own in this world. Adorn it as you'd like! If you like tattoos, get tattooed! If you like piercings, get pierced. If you like make-up, cake it on! Wear weird, Peruvian summer dresses, buy that bright purple hat, paint your nails fluorescent yellow. If you hate make-up or bras, don't wear them! If you love dying your hair bright pink, do it tonight! It doesn't matter if you're 15 or 50 -- whatever makes you feel good about yourself should be high on your priority list!
I learned this through body modification. I love tattoos and piercings. but have been long discouraged over the years. They're not professional, they're not mature, they're not attractive. That all may very well be true, but you know what? I don't care. My tattooed, pierced self is the real me, and I refuse to let random strangers dictate my appearance. I truly believe that your body should be an expression of yourself, for better or for worse, and you should walk with pride in your own skin.
Stay True To Yourself
This has been, by far, the hardest lesson I've had to learn in life. In fact, I would be lying if I said I'd really learned it yet. There are still moments when I feel the need to impress others. Despite my long-term relationship with a loving man, I still catch myself sucking in my gut when I see a good looking man or woman. Despite the complete lack of regret I feel about my tattoos, I still find myself pulling my sleeves down when I see an old woman approach me. All of us, to some extent, care what others think of us. It's a survivalist's trait -- you have to get along with others if you want to survive in a society -- but that doesn't mean you have to deny your true self. I have learned over the years that it's really only the ignorant minority that judges you on your appearance. Most reasonable people will take some time to get to know you before they pass judgement, and those are the people that will truly impact your life. More than that, those are the people that will see the real you, and appreciate that person, no matter your appearance.
If I could choose my own epitaph, it would be, "stay true to yourself". Anyone who is worth knowing will appreciate it. While I may not yet be the most self-confident person in the world, I am quite confident in the fact that the only loveable you is the real you. Never compromise the true you, and I assure you, the path to happiness will never be far away.
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