It has dawned on me recently that I am beginning to feel happier in my own skin, less critical of myself and, dare I say it, a lot more comfortable just being me.
It has taken a lot to get to this place, a lot of my younger years I was bullied for being too quiet, for not fitting in, for being weird…the list goes on. This bullying was not just verbal but physical and mental too, for years I thought that what people were saying about me must be true. I thought I was really unlikeable and not worthy of having friends, every little thing that got said to me, I believed and, worse than that, I let it affect me.
Once I moved to college and away from my high school, the bullying stopped and I found like-minded friends but that niggling was still there, all those things that had been directed at me, becoming an echo in my own head and I would be forever doubting myself.
As time went on and I moved away, built my own life and began my working life, going to uni, becoming a “grown-up” my confidence started to heal and grow again.
But, I’d still look in the mirror and be very critical of what I saw before me, I worried about the clothes I wore and whether they were “in fashion”, whether I needed to diet, worried about my weight, what hair cut I should have, which make-up I should be using and loads of other things.
I couldn’t really work out where these feelings were coming from, until one day I sat down and was about to read a magazine that I always bought and really, really looked hard at it, at the contents of it and how it made me feel. This glossy magazine that was aimed at women in their 20’s, that was all about being “positive” was FULL to the brim with diet advice, how to look good in this garment, what to wear to attract the right man, how to look thinner, how to get fuller hair, bigger lips, better cleavage…
All of these, supposedly helpful, articles that were pretending to be something that they weren’t. The reality was that this magazine wasn’t full of positive vibes but full of ways that you could view yourself in a critical way.
I’d substituted the school bullies for another kind of bully.
And as women, we seem to do this every day. We constantly seem to compare ourselves to others, are critical of our own appearance, our weight, whether we have exercised or not. We have been taught to never be happy with what we have, to forever chasing the next version of ourselves, to constantly be aware and working on ways to change. We are never happy.
When I realised that I had been caught up in this exhausting cycle, I wanted to get out. I was fed up of beating myself up about this person I could be, heck, I’m here now and this “me” could do with a little love before I even look at making changes. So I stopped. I stopped buying those magazines that told me what I should wear, should eat, should look like and I slowly started to appreciate what I have that has been given to me.
I very rarely follow fashion, much preferring to curate my own look, I don’t diet, instead, I have an awareness of what I should be eating and not depriving myself, I don’t weigh myself very often, I know when I have gained or lost weight by how my clothes feel and adjust what I eat and my exercise levels to accommodate these changes, I no longer spend money on some kind of ideal that I know I won’t be able to obtain and I no longer worry about whether I fit in.
I woke up and I feel happy.