For as long as I can remember, there have been aspects of myself that I’ve hated. I know hate is a strong word, which is exactly why I used it. I hated so many parts of myself and was so ashamed of so many things that made up who I was, so much so that it stopped me from dressing the way I wanted, trying new things, and putting myself out there overall. As I got older, I decided that I had to stop letting my insecurities dictate the way I lived my life. It’s important to remember that no one will ever be flawless, but here are some of the ways I was able to take control of my insecurities and live the life I wanted.
Overcoming Your Insecurities
One of the most important things I’ve had to teach myself is that being skinny and being happy aren’t correlated. All throughout high school, I wanted to be skinny so that boys would like me and so I wouldn’t feel insecure when I hung out with smaller friends, not because I cared about my health or wanted my body to function at it’s best. My desire to be skinny was so debilitating that instead of realizing the fun I could have been having with my friends who loved me regardless of how much I weighed, I was always stuck obsessing over my body. I told myself that if I lost X amount of weight it would solve my problems and I’d be happier. The thing is though, some of the smallest people I know are still riddled with insecurity. No matter what your size is, there will still be challenges and things will still come up within yourself that you don’t like. As a woman, body image has been an extremely tricky thing for me to try to be comfortable with since we’re taught that the way we look is more important than the type of people that we are. Like I said, a huge part of me wanting to be thinner was because I thought it would make boys like me.
Of course it’s important to have a healthy, functional body but unless your mind is in the right place and the reasoning behind your weight loss is healthy, it won’t matter what your body looks like because whether you weigh 85 or 800 pounds, you won’t ever be satisfied. Losing weight and changing your appearance to appeal to other people can be incredibly damaging because you won’t ever be able to appeal to everyone. Everyone’s perception of what’s desirable is different, and no one, no matter how small or beautiful you think they are, will ever be the person everyone wants. Being surrounded in people who think you’re beautiful won’t matter and will not make you any happier if you don’t feel it too. (Also, I don’t even think I have to say this but just in case you’ve forgotten, you are so much more than a body and you are worth love and appreciation no matter what you look like).
If you want to look a certain way or accomplish a specific thing, you have to want to do it for yourself. It’s easy to want to change yourself to fit in more or to be accepted by people in your circle but when no one else is around, you’re stuck with yourself at the end of the day. It’s great if all your peers accept you but it doesn’t really mean much if you haven’t accepted yourself. Learning to accept the body you were born into and the person you are is crucial to overcoming your insecurities, despite how hard it can be. A big thing for me was coming to terms with the fact that I’m not perfect, and that that’s okay. We’re all human and we’re all flawed which means we all make mistakes, but what’s important is that you’re able to forgive yourself for them. Forgiving myself for mistakes I’ve made both in hurting myself and other people has been a really hard thing but it’s what has helped me to remove any resentment I had towards myself and to accept that even though there are parts of myself I don’t like, I’m still worth loving. Like I said, we’re all human and we all make mistakes, so be kind to yourself.
Sometimes when I have a hard time seeing the good in myself amongst all my flaws, I compare my relationship with myself to a romantic relationship. In relationships, your partner is bound to make mistakes and it’s inevitable that there will be parts of them that you don’t love. One of the most important things in a healthy relationship though is loving your partner beyond the flaws they have. You’d never spend time picking apart your loved one for their flaws, instead you’d celebrate all the other amazing parts of them. Becoming comfortable with yourself and accepting the person you are is about loving yourself beyond your flaws and celebrating all the amazing parts of yourself, the same way you would in a romantic relationship. Another cliche, but your flaws contribute to the person you are and the good parts of you wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for your flaws.
I’ve been trying to put myself out there and do things that scare me and as uncomfortable as it’s been, it’s helped me to gain a lot of confidence. Believing in yourself can be a big leap of faith but when you trust your abilities and do the things that scare you, you’re giving yourself a vote of confidence. Vulnerability is terrifying but what’s important to remember is that when your biggest fears are realized, you have nothing left to be scared of. Realizing I have nothing to be scared of has made me see how unstoppable I am. Obviously getting to a place where I’m able to subside my anxieties and do things that scare me has taken a lot of work, and it’s okay to take baby steps. Whether that means you wear clothes you normally wouldn’t or you talk to someone who intimidates you or take a work opportunity that’s out of your comfort zone, baby steps are still steps and any progress is progress regardless of how small it may seem.
It’s taken me a long time to realize that being confident is okay. Of course humility is important too, but acknowledging your accomplishments and celebrating yourself is equally as important. Getting to a point where you’re able to love and accept yourself, flaws and all, is a huge thing that deserves self-recognition. Celebrate your successes, whether they’re big or small. Something with myself that I noticed was that I wasn’t ever giving myself the credit I deserved for getting through tough things. Being honest with yourself about how hard some of the things you’ve accomplished have been and letting yourself be proud of yourself is a great way to celebrate how strong and resilient you are. When you reflect on how much you’ve accomplished, it can help you to see how far you’ve come and how much more you can do; once you’re out of your own way, you can do anything.
Take Care of Yourself!
I can not stress how important self care has been for me. I know people tend to make fun of it, but being able to listen to what you need can make a huge difference in your happiness. Self care is something that’s really individual, so what will help you to take care of yourself will be different from what helps someone else. You have to listen to your body and your mind and to what you need. Self care can be anything that helps you to feel okay and part of that is sometimes needing to be selfish, and knowing that it’s okay to do so. I had a hard time understanding that being selfish doesn’t make me a bad person, but what helped me to be okay with it was deciding that I was important enough and worth being taken care of. Putting your own needs above the needs of others can be conflicting but you can never be in a position to take care of anyone else if you’re not taken care of first.
Yes, it’s important to get outside of your comfort zone and to do things that scare you, but be realistic with yourself and take things at a pace that works for you. Like I said, baby steps are still steps. Not every day will be easy, and things will shake your confidence from time to time. There are days still when I look in the mirror and don’t like what I see, and times where I struggle knowing how many mistakes I’ve made even though I’ve come so far from them. It’s okay to have times where you don’t feel confident, and it’s important to be kind to yourself during those times. Having bad days is part of life and it’s okay to need to reassure yourself and take a step back before you feel 100% again. Don’t force yourself to do anything that’s beyond your means.