I see so many people on a daily basis who I can just tell are ashamed of their bodies. Whether they realize it or not, that’s being projected out into the world. I know this and can spot this because a few years ago, I used to be the exact same way.
I lived a lot of my life feeling ashamed for taking up space. I used to be very ashamed of my body, so much so that I hated looking at myself in the mirror apart from putting on makeup (yay for covering up self-imposed flaws!).
Now, I don’t give a *$%^. I’m here, I’m happy and I’m proud. And I’m not sorry for existing or taking up space. I notice I walk much more confidently now than I used to. I remember I used to practice walking with my head up, staring straight ahead, but I could only do it for a few steps at a time before I had to stare at the ground again.
In recent months especially, I noticed I have the opposite problem. I look up all the time and almost trip sometimes because I don’t look at the ground as much. This was a gradual change, and I can’t quite pinpoint when it happened, but it made me so happy once I realized I had finally become confident and comfortable with myself.
Here comes the cheesy but seriously true part: if I can do it, anybody can. Here’s why.
I used to read a lot of self-help/women’s magazines like Oprah and Self and Cosmo and I’d try mimic the confidence tips they posted. One of the main tips I remember (I think it was from Oprah) for faking confidence was to walk with your face straight ahead, like you’re ready to take on the world (or some other cheesy phrasing like that). And again, no matter how hard I tried, I had to stare down at the ground after only a few steps.
I felt ashamed, like I would never be confident enough to look up and face the world. The world had been cruel to me, and I let it (and bullies) beat me down.
Here’s a little snapshot of what I used to be like for years and years and years:
I absolutely hated myself and my body.
I cried all the time during romantic movies because I was so terrified no one would ever want me like that.
I felt absolutely invisible to boys who would chat with my cuter friends while I would stand there like the third wheel.
I felt all of the eyes on me whenever I’d walk down the hallways or between aisles of desks or other crowded spaces because it wasn’t as easy for me as my other skinnier classmates.
I cried at my reflection all of the time.
I would often look at pictures of myself when I was younger and dream about being that skinny again.
I’m sharing this because I’m not the only one who has felt or will feel this way.
I think it was easier for me to blame myself for all of these problems instead of the people who were cruel to me. I was so incredibly mean to myself on a daily basis for years, and I never told anyone.
The best word to describe me as a teen is ashamed.
I felt like nothing I could do was right, I would never be confident, I would never be loved, I would never be happy.
I thought that if I could lose weight, I would immediately be happier, more fulfilled, more confident. Or at least less miserable.
Unlike many other people my age, I didn’t like wearing clothes that showed off my cleavage or midriff. I didn’t want to draw any attention to myself because I figured no attention was better than bad attention. Good attention was just for the skinny, pretty girls, and I was neither.
So I got better at wearing makeup and faking happiness. I kept to myself, read a lot, hung out at home. I hated hanging out in large groups of people because I always viewed myself as the DUFF (designated ugly fat friend) before I even really knoew that was a thing. My friends didn’t view me that way, but I could tell other people did.
After years of struggling, I went to counseling to help my body image. I didn’t realize so many people struggled with body image issues, and that made me feel both better and worse. Learning that it was a common problem honestly shocked me. I thought I was alone and I would always be that way because no one else could possibly understand or relate. I was used to being ignored, forgotten, invisible.
At first I felt silly when I told my boyfriend I would be going to counseling to work on my body image. He was supportive and said very nice things, like calling me beautiful. I knew he believed that 100%, but I sure didn’t. Through years of internal self-abuse, I felt worthless, ashamed, like a fraud. People around me thought I was confident because I would laugh and smile a lot, but it was an act.
Self-love was such a foreign concept to me. It never even occurred to me to be nice to myself or to try to stop the constant negative self-talk. I just thought this was how it was going to be, and that was that. I accepted feeling miserable all the time because I figured no one else would want me or think I was beautiful since I certainly didn’t. When I started this blog about three years ago, I still didn’t really understand or comprehend what self-love was.
I’m sure a lot of you know exactly what I mean. If you’re currently living this way, I want you to know that it gets better. You’ll get better. You’ll be able to rise above the negativity, separate yourself from toxic people and learn to love yourself, which is something you never even thought was an option.
I understand you, the horrible things you say to yourself in your mind, how easy it is to disparage yourself. I understand that you dislike your reflection or want to wear neutral colors to blend in or think it will never get any better so you should just accept feeling miserable forever.
Whether I’ve talked to you before or not, I am here for you. If you are having a terrible day and can’t stop the negative self-talk, please email me, message me, do something. Please. You are worth more than tearing yourself down every single day.
You are not meant to be ashamed of yourself.
Self-confidence is real. Self-love is real. You are real, and you deserve both. If you feel ashamed of existing, of taking up space in the world, of living, please know you’re not alone. I’m here for you.