Anyone who has known me for awhile, knows that self-acceptance has been very difficult for me over the years. It’s still difficult. But this is a small testament to recognize that self-acceptance is possible. It takes time, deep soul searching, significant life experiences and commitment to develop into who you are. For me, it all really started when I decided to lose weight.
I grew up VERY self-aware of how overweight I was. From my peers, teachers, friends, doctors, family, society, etc constantly reminding me, it was pretty hard not to be aware of my size. It was in about 6-7th grade where I realized, “how my body looks is most important”. I was maybe 11 years old at the time. 11 YEARS OLD?! Why was I even thinking of my body weight at that time?? Instead of focusing on learning or practicing new hobbies, I obsessed about how imperfect my body was. I wanted nothing more than to be like the thin girls in my class and I really started to believe that thinness was directly connected to a woman’s worth. As time passed, I decided, “well if I can’t be thin then I’ll show them up with my personality.” So I did. Into high school and college, I became the girl who would command a room. This way I could dazzle people with my personality and then, just maybe then, they wouldn’t notice my belly or comment when I bought nothing at the mall because the stores didn’t carry my size. For the most part, it worked. I gained a lot of friends, experienced a ton of laughs, became a leader in almost every organization I joined, and experienced some bouts of happiness. But…the insecurities still lingered. They were like a shadow on my back constantly nudging to remind me, “you’re good but just not quite good enough”.
So, then I graduated college. I began to work my first big girl job and I was thrilled. A few months in, I quickly learned that a desk job meant inevitable weight gain. After about a year working, I had gained 40-50 pounds. Fact is, I was just not feelin’ myself. I remember looking in the mirror and saying, “if you would just get your life together and lose weight, you’ll be happy”. So I did. I joined a fitness training group, became a vegetarian and lost about 60 lbs.
I lost weight, but here’s what I gained:
- Consistant positive comments validating that I wasn’t good enough for the world before I had lost weight (though I did enjoy them at the time)
- A complete and total obsession over every morsel of food I ate and every calorie burned
- More insecurities than I bargained for
I realized shortly after losing weight that I still hadn’t been able to obtain that happiness and contentment I had been looking for. After a return move back home to Maryland, starting graduate school, and the process of choosing to surround myself with healthy relationships, I had then decided to stop obsessing and begin to focus on becoming right from within.
The fact is, happiness is an emotion not a tangible item you can grab off the shelf. Emotions are meant to be experienced interchangeably and frequently; AKA: happiness is an emotion that comes and goes. I can’t tell you how long it took me to realize this. All this time I’ve been looking for happiness as a means of it being something I could obtain, rather than directing my life in a way where I can feel happiness more frequently. So I decided to start working on myself. I began finding hobbies and activities that brought me joy, started practicing self-care, and started changing my own self-talk when referring to myself. Making these changes not only changed my mindset, but my life.
Here I am today, a woman who has struggled with self-confidence her whole life, lost weight, gained it back, overcame bullying and criticism, and is now finally committed to working on being the best person she can be. This journey and message of self-love really became solidified for me once I started posting pictures of myself on social media. I posted pictures that the “old Alex” would have never dreamed of putting on display for the whole world to see.
I started to post outfits that made me feel good.
And even posted pictures that exposed major vulnerability.
And you know what? It felt (and still feels) AMAZING!
I started to notice the response from people both close to me and those whom I had never met, and I began to realize that this message is more than about me…it’s about the millions of people who have been told they are not enough. The millions of people struggling to find worth in who they are at this very moment. The millions of people living in constant comparison, shame and judgement. This message goes out to you.
Here’s my testament: Self-love IS attainable. You ARE enough. You ARE worthy. You ARE incredible. Confidence isn’t something that comes overnight but if you work on it a little each day by telling yourself something positive, I can promise you, your entire world will become a little brighter.
Thanks for reading loves!
*Disclaimer: shout out to the inspiring Lauryn Hill for the title of this entry 🙂 *