Friday, May 17, 2013

Making a New Comfort Zone

I'm a Jersey girl, and this blog is about finding comfort in the little things.  I've written about finding comfort in the little things. I've shared the amusement I find from living with cats. I admitted my love of polka dots and dresses with pockets. I talk about knitting all the time because I love it so much. In my first blog, way back when I was in Dublin, I talked about comfort food. I've bought earrings just because they reminded me of Doctor Who. And I've talked about finding joy in a handful of mutated flowers.

So, for a few minutes I want to talk about something similar and different at the same time. It's something I find more important than all the little things, but at the same time it comes from the little things. I want to talk about being comfortable in your own skin.

I woke up this morning and browsed through my Feedly, and came across this article from From the corners of the curve by Callie Thorpe. I have to say, as someone who's always struggled with their self image, that I couldn't do what she did. I couldn't get into an argument with someone who was imposing their ideas about the way people look and being offensive about it. I'd have reacted one of two ways, told him he could go do anatomically impossible things to himself, or have been quietly upset for a day or two. Actually I probably would have done both things. In that order.

 In the last year, I've grown much more confident then I used to be. I've stopped looking in the mirror and saying 'I know I can be pretty, so why am I not today?' I've started thinking on more of a sliding scale. 'I feel prettier today then I did yesterday.' or 'I looked prettier yesterday.' I want to clarify that that's not the same thing as saying, 'I look ugly today' or 'I looked ugly yesterday'. I try very hard to feel pretty each day, or to find something about myself that I like. Some days its easier then others.

I am not a small girl (size 20 and not ashamed), and for some reason, people have tried to make me feel like less of a person because of it since I was a child. Sometimes they'd be really obvious about it, and other times they'd say things that sounded like compliments but would sink in and be hurtful later. I heard a lot of 'You'd be pretty if you lost a bit of weight'. I spent time in the mall with friends but couldn't shop in the same stores as them. I've worn a bra since I was in middle school.  My first week in eighth grade I went to the doctor to have him fill out paperwork saying I could take Tylenol and ibuprofen in school for headaches and cramps. He walked in the exam room and said 'You need to lose weight'. (What respectable doctor tells a thirteen year old girl she's fat before he says hello? Before he even has a chance to judge her mental state?) And as much as I loved and miss my grandfather, he never had a problem telling me I was fat.

There were also people who told me I was pretty. But I never listened to them. I always thought, 'They're just saying that to make me feel better'. I brushed off true compliments as insincere comments.  All the voices telling me I was fat or ugly or just plain not enough were louder in my head. For years they drowned out all the good things people were saying. Eventually I started remembering all of the good things people said. All of the times I felt pretty and didn't second guess myself. With time, the voices were equal in volume, and more recently, the good things have gotten louder then the bad things. Mostly I've told the bad things to go crawl into a cave and die because I don't care about them any more. Only the good things get to live in my head. Everything else can go find a new home.

So in the last year, I've started to change the way I think. I've started to become more comfortable in my own skin. I'm learning not to care what other people think of me, and it's so much better. I'm not constantly worrying about what other people think or how they're react, or if someone will think I look fat in this dress. Or is this shirt too tight. If they don't like it, they don't have to look. And they can keep their own damned opinions to themselves.

I've gotten rid of clothes I don't like the way I look in, and been less afraid to buy the ones I like. That means my mother and I clash from time to time when shopping together, but I'm learning that my own opinions about things matter more, since ya know, I'll be the one wearing them. I don't worry if my dress is too short and will disgust people, I consider if I'll feel comfortable out in public in it. If the answer is no, I add a pair of leggings and just keep tugging it down.

So what if I'm not wearing shapeless sacks? So what if I like clothes that show off my shape and assets? So what if strangers don't like it? So what if I'm not a size 2 or 4 or whatever people think the ideal is? I like me, and I have to live with me everyday, not them. If they can't handle that, well, then I'll be out of their lives in two minutes and they don't have to worry about it.

I still have bad days where I look in the mirror and think, 'UGH'. There's days when I won't leave the house without makeup on because it's the only think that makes me feel pretty that day. But then there's days when I feel prettiest in leggings and an old tshirt with my hair up and not a bit of makeup on. And days when I don't have any doubt that I'm pretty. Those are the days I feel most comfortable in my own skin. And those are the days I want everybody else to love themselves to as well.

I had something else planned for a post for tomorrow, but it can wait. I wanted you to know something, and it couldn't wait. So, here it is.

You're wonderful. You're beautiful. You're worth it. And don't let anyone tell you otherwise. 

Are you comfortable in your own skin? Or at least learning to be? What helps you feel that way? What inspires you to love who you are? When do you feel prettiest (or handsomest)? 

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