When I was a kid, I was shy. I didn’t have very many friends. I used to think that I was just plain unlikeable. I didn’t feel like I had anyone to talk to, so what was my strategy? Cling to anyone who showed any interest in me, and go along with whatever they wanted me to do. Change myself, and don’t stand for my own principles. Morph myself into what other people thought I should be. For me, this meant that I would date any boy that liked me, and do almost anything that would keep them around. I look back and consider myself pretty lucky that I didn’t fall into drug use, and I drew a line with what I was willing to give up for acceptance, MEANING, I didn’t let boys guilt me into having sex with them when I wasn’t ready or willing. That was more likely because I was terrified of anyone seeing me naked and judging me at my most vulnerable state.
I used to think to myself, “Once I am out of high school, things will be different. I will be different. People will see that I have value, and they will want to be around me.” Things did change, but for the worse. I had a wider array of people who preyed on low self esteem. I welcomed those people into my life and allowed them the power to control me through my need to be accepted. I would cry sometimes. Why do I have to be this way? Then I found alcohol. Alcohol took me to places that I thought I liked. I was able to talk without being afraid that people would think I was stupid. I could be free. I had liquid courage! Years later, I realize that alcohol was a substitute for dealing head on with my need for accceptance from other people. I felt like people liked me because I was that crazy girl that you never knew what she would do next. Karaoke? YES! Flirt with anyone? YES!! Party all night, and still show up to work the next day? Oh yeah! Close down the bar? You know it! What a fun girl!
But you know what? It wasn’t fun. I was slowly losing every bit of my authentic self while striving to be what I am not. I am not a party girl. I love spreadsheets. I am not a flirty girl. I am reserved. I am smart. I am scheduled. I am loyal. I am driven.
As you know, this lifestyle caught up with me. Two completely failed marriages, doubled my body weight, fired from a great job, and, SURPRISE…all those people that loved the crazy girl weren’t there for me when it all crashed in. They moved to the next crazy girl. They peeled off, one by one, as things got hard. My life fell apart, and they were only interested in watching the train wreck. They didn’t seem to realize or maybe even care that I was an actual person.
Flash forward to today. Even though I have lost weight. Even though I have acccomplished goals. Even though I am at peace with most parts of my life, I still struggle with accepting every part of myself. In the header photo for this blog post, I have put a picture in from my recent dream vacation to Hawaii. I don’t see the beautiful ocean, or the famous pier in Hanalei Bay. I see cellulite. I see the constant negative self talk about my ‘disgusting’ legs. I didn’t put it up for you to tell me, “Ah, but you are pretty!” or for you to tell me it’s not bad and you can’t see it. I posted that picture because I am outting myself. I struggle every day with accepting myself. I love WHO I am, but I am critical of what I look like.
Last summer, Wave and I decided that we should go to the high school pool one Saturday. Typical Arizona summer day, stifling hot and unbearable. I was excited! Yes, let’s go cool off and swim. But then, I put on my swimsuit and I was horrified. I was paralyzed. I started stalling. Of course I have to sweep and mop before we can go. Oh, but I need to do our weekly meal prep before we can go. Finally, Wave took me by the shoulders, looked me in the eyes, and asked me what was going on. I knew I had to be honest, so I told him that I am terrified of people looking at my cellulite and being disgusted by me. He just hugged me and told me that we didn’t have to go. I, on the other hand, knew that I had to face this. It was scary, but I did it. No one vomited, or fainted by the sight of my cellulite, so that was good.
So, how does one begin the journey of self acceptance? For me, it was a pretty methodical process. First, I had to write out everything I hated about myself. What were the negative thoughts that were rolling around in my head? “No one likes me.” “People think I am stupid.” “I am a burden to others, because they only feel sorry for me.” There is a lot of healing that is initiated in this step. Shining a light on the monsters under the bed makes them less frightening. I looked at each piece and broke it down. Why do I think no one likes me? Maybe I am surrounding myself with people who are not really there for friendship, but are they going to use me for something in their own agenda. Am I truly an unlikeable person? What are the qualities that I see in myself that ARE likeable? Finally, what kind of person do I want as an ideal friend? Do the qualities in me line up with the qualities I want in a friend? We often hear the phrase, “Opposites attract.” Though that may be true in science, in my experience, birds of a feather really do flock together. If I want a friend who listens to me, and who keeps things in confidence and doesn’t blab my problems to everyone, am I a friend who listens to others intently, and keep their issues confidential?
In essence, self acceptance comes with a lot of soul searching and brutal honesty with yourself. We often tell ourselves what we want to believe, but is not exactly true. One may tell themselves, “No one wants me because I don’t have the body of a cover model!” In reality, no one wants me because I act like a piece of human trash who is selfish and doesn’t value others in the way I expect to be valued. The only way we can truly change is to first and foremost, be honest and cut out all the BS. You are only a victim if you want to be. Feeling sorry for yourself is being a victim. Being shy is not a character flaw. Expecting the world to cater to you because you are shy is. If you want to be accepted, then start with accepting yourself. If you want a great self esteem, do something esteemable! If you don’t like what you are, change it! You have power over your thoughts, words, and actions. If you want people to be friendly with you, then be a friendly person! Say hello to a stranger. There is no danger in that. Just a simple, “Hello!” Tip the corners of your mouth up and walk around with a smile instead of a stoic and unexpressive face. Let people know that you care what they have to say. If you hear someone say something that strikes a profound chord within you, tell them that you appreciate their words, or if you like what they are wearing that day, say so! Be honest with yourself, and decide if you are willing to acccept the things you don’t like about yourself (like cellulite on your thighs), or if you aren’t willing to accept it, then are you willing to change it? For me, I have to always be in a constant state of loving who I am right now, but always striving to be better. Be willing to adapt the belief that the only opinion that matters is your own. If no one else likes it, F*&k ’em! It just does not matter what other people think. They don’t get to have that power over you, unless you let them.
My friends, what I know is that we all have really silly hang ups, and monsters in our closets. I haven’t met a perfect person yet. I know that a lot of people that know me think I have my act together, and I am a zen master. But I am not. I have issues. There are things that I accept. There are things that I am working on changing. There are things that I am finally admitting to myself, and I am always and forever cleaning out my closet. Please know, whatever it is that you are going through, you are not alone. That deep, dark secret that you have been carrying around for most of your life…I am positive that someone else has done that too. In finding ourselves, we become less judgmental of others. We start to appreciate the flaws and failings that make us who we are today. We become more open and honest beings with one another, and we start to become just a bit more understanding and open to others. I am always here for you, either by the ‘contact’ form at the end of the blog, in the comments section, or on Instagram (@healhierversionofchris). We are all in this together. Stop questioning yourself, and understand this….
You’re probably NOT crazy!!!