Last week I got a message from a lovely reader and one of the things she said in her message really threw me for a loop. She told me that she was moved by seeing how secure I was within myself and wanted to work on getting there herself. I didn't know what to say at first because, honestly, I'm a ball of anxiety, insecurity, and self-depreciation most of the time. But as her words started to sink in and I realized that she had a point, I started to actually look at how I got to this place in my life, right now, where I am (most of the time) completely and utterly confident in myself and who I am as a person.
Somewhere between high school and 26, you stop caring about what other people think. `Never entirely, but it happens. I think a lot of my initial self-doubt and desire to conform to what everyone expects I should act like, talk like, dress like, etc. started as a desire to fit in when I moved to a new town but then got perverted by an intense desire to have people think I was normal. Looking back at my high school days (and cringing, very hard) I can see exactly where "the real me" ended and the face I put on for everyone else began. I had someone constantly whispering in my ear and telling me that I was wasn't good enough, that I was crazy, that no one ever actually likes me for me, etc. But he was also saying this kind of thing to anyone who would listen. If you can think it up, he probably said it. When you're 17 years old and trying to navigate high school while dealing with an emotionally abusive relationship, you just feel entirely lost and hopeless. So it's no wonder I lost my truest sense of self during those years of my life.
I used to hide certain aspects of my personality and things I liked (like Harry Potter) away from the outside world, those who weren't my closest friends, because I always felt like everyone would think I was "weird" for liking certain things or wanting to do something like dress up as a character from a fictional universe and take pictures. I used to think that dressing preppy was the only type of style for me, that I had to wear certain brands and styles even though they didn't flatter my body type, that I had to spend a ton of money on clothes in order for people to like me. But you know what? You don't.
The bottom line here is that you're never going to please everyone. There will always be someone out there who doesn't like you for one reason or another. If you're going to be constantly battling society and other people's opinions, then you might as well love yourself first, right? This subtle change in attitude is what's made all of the difference for me. I won't sit here and lie to you saying that becoming comfortable in my own skin was intentional. It really wasn't. It's something that just happened as I was completely unaware that it was happening. There are moments where I made a conscious decision to do something that has helped me see my worth and improve my sense of confidence in myself, like going on my health and fitness journey and more recently, completely purging my wardrobe and closet but I didn't have the full scope of that impact in mind when I was making those decisions.
If being comfortable in your own skin is something you'd like to work on, then I invite you to come and have a seat at this table. (In my mind, this table is large and wooden, with long benches, it has a few dings and scratches here and there and is obviously worn but still sturdy, like all of us). Part of the reason why I'm sharing this with y'all is to inspire you to be yourself but also to let every girl and young women out there know that they are not alone.
To others, yes, but most importantly, to yourself. Stop self-criticism when it starts and focus more on self-care.
Beware the comparison game.
Comparison is the thief of joy.
Fake it until you make it.
This is probably the best piece of advice I've ever gotten and I fully intend on writing an entire blog post about why soon. But basically, this is how I got to where I am today.
Do what you love because you love it.
If you love something that is super trendy, great! If you love something that's not, that's great too! Celebrate differences. Don't hide your love for something if it gives you joy just because society might tell you it's not cool.