This blog is a verbatim email that went to my crew this week. It’s raw, it’s real, it’s what I’ve battled and felt for a long time….and it’s hitting home for my readers. It’s gotten a great response, so I’ve decided to share it as a blog, too.
It has been a very, very long road to reach the point where I’m brave enough to show up, be myself, and let the chips fall. I’m reaching a point where it is more important to me to help move other women out of the same stuck spot I was in, than shy away from sharing my own stories and experiences.
Ladies, we have to start letting the chips fall! We have to start feeling good and worthy and acceptable JUST AS WE ARE. It’s some hard work, I’ll tell you that. But when you start to be cool with yourself versus feeling like you need to adjust and conform so the pretty people like you…whoa!!! Life altering whoa!!
Your physical body can be healthy…and that, in and of itself, is a really good thing. Because I know I don’t want to age and not be able to move and care for myself…you likely feel exactly the same.
But having a physical body that does good things and even perhaps looks good (which is all relative anyway…) DOES NOT equate to contentment and happiness. It simply. DOES. NOT! You’ve got to get good and comfy with WHO you are to get to those feelings.
Here’s that email……
“I just posted on Facebook this week about how some fears of mine stalled my ability to trust myself…and essentially be myself.
This year has been a little crazy when I think of all that I’ve done and all that I’ve discovered about myself. For the first time in probably decades I didn’t enter the year with some sort of “lose weight” or “fix this about my body” thing at the forefront of my mind. It wasn’t a conscious decision to move AWAY from that stuff, rather I just simply decided that my own crap was getting in my way and I needed to figure out some mindset stuff this year.
And, boy have I!! In the process of reframing and retraining my thoughts about myself, a lot of stuff I’d forgotten about has come up. Mostly stuff about how embarrassed and out of place I’ve felt for much of my life. I’m not entirely sure how I came to think about myself the way I did, but for a long time I’ve felt like who and what I am simply doesn’t fit the norm.
And because I was different it scared me! It still does actually…quite a lot, though I’m getting more settled into “me” this year and it feels good.
I was bigger than nearly every other girl I knew…from as young as 4 years old this was the case. It made me feel embarrassed that I wasn’t the same.
I distinctly remember going to friends houses and making certain I didn’t eat more than my friend did…and being terribly hungry. It scared me. How could I be so much bigger, always want to eat, and never be full when anyone else was?
It bothered me that I wasn’t dainty and weak…or at least it bothered me that dainty and weak girls seemed to attract the attention of the opposite sex. I liked being strong, but the message came in loud and clear that strong wasn’t considered attractive.
It was scary and maddening and embarrassing to be the big girl, the strong girl…the only girl with the guys holding up the bottom of the human pyramid during Homecoming week festivities.
I remember trying out for the basketball cheerleading squad my freshmen year of college. At that time I was probably 130 pounds…and I believed to my core I was fat. I loved cheering (don’t laugh!! 😉 ) and despite my nerves and that I felt ginormous next to most of the other girls, I tried out. We had to do stunts with the guys on the squad, something I had never once done or had any experience with. I couldn’t do them…the guys couldn’t lift me. Now whether that was because I was too heavy or it’s because I literally had one night to learn how to do this stuff I don’t actually know…doesn’t matter though because what I had feared would happen did: I was too big to be on that cheerleading squad.
I’m sarcastic by nature…always have been. Pretty opinionated, too. I’ve learned through the years to temper some of that because it can hurt people. But somewhere along the line I’ve become too afraid to show that side of myself for fear of offending someone or them not liking me or my sense of humor.
I’m not a pillar of positivity…I usually need to bitch and complain about things before I can get on with them. I fear people will grow weary of me if I show that side of me to them.
Mistakes and being wrong make me feel foolish and stupid…I don’t like those feelings and I worry about how I’m perceived by others if I mess up or fail. I try very hard not to let people know what I’m doing…if they don’t know, they can’t see if I mess up.
I am giving you all these personal examples so you can see that I’ve struggled with this crap for a long ass time.
I am giving you all these personal examples so you can see that some of my fears are wrapped up in my weight, but that ALL of my fears have to do with how I will be accepted with being me. The me that was fat, the me that was/is strong, the me that is sarcastic, the me that is opinionated, the me that makes mistakes.
My point to all these stories of my life: to get you thinking about your fears and if they are tied to being accepted.
For years, I equated acceptance (and my fear of NOT being accepted) with fitting the proper physical mold. If I was smaller, weaker, not fat, didn’t eat so much, THEN I’d fit.
I’d be able to get the guy. I’d be able to be a normal girl in the middle of the human pyramid. I’d be able to be lifted up by some (not terribly muscular or strong) dude and make the cheerleading squad and belong. I’d never rock the boat with my personality or opinions and then people would like me. As long as I could be anything else but me, then I’d be accepted.
Wow! This makes me sad and empowered all at once. And, it’s truly difficult to share all this…what might be glaringly obvious to you as you read my story took me YEARS to figure out.
Did you read this with an empathetic lens? Were you able to see my patterns and flawed thinking for what they were? Were you able to see where my fears got in the way of what I really wanted?
I bet you did because you would offer me understanding and grace…something I never offered myself.
Do you offer yourself understanding and grace? Do you look clinically at your own patterns and try to figure out what you are so afraid of? Do you have fears about belonging and being accepted for showing your whole self?
Maybe it’s time to start working on that!
The best way I know of is to get honest with yourself. Honest with what is important to you and how you want to live…and then do those things. Not for anyone else, but for yourself.
I’ve discovered that when you begin to live life in line with what matters to you on the deepest of levels (this could also be called “following the feel good”) AND you embrace your personality that it makes life so much sweeter.
That little suggestion I gave applies to all sorts of stuff: how you eat, how you exercise, how you show up at work, how you treat others around you, how you parent, what activities bring you joy, etc.
I’m not saying that you should avoid change/growth or that you don’t have areas of your personality/life on which you can improve…we all should endeavor to grow and shore up our weak spots.
The difference is that you may have been thinking all this time that the things that are inherently YOU, are bad (like I thought my being a strong and thick girl or being opinionated were “bad”). They aren’t!!
You’ve decided (like I decided) that certain traits of yours are unacceptable and unworthy. They aren’t!!
Start getting real with yourself and thinking on this stuff. If you’re not ready to dive into the self-esteem things, then begin with the physical health things like how you eat and how you move. Why do you think it’s bad to like ice cream and have a big appetite…or why do you fear those things about yourself? Why do you think it’s bad to want to workout as little as possible versus spend 1+ hours daily at it…or what do you fear that says about you?
Get real. Get honest. Start picking at your thoughts around things. Start doing what feels more natural AND promotes you feeling good…physically and for your soul!
I’m telling you, your body and instinct will NOT fail you!
This is some heavy stuff to sort through. Changing your health is a more internal process than you may have guessed!
What are you struggling with? Where are the hangups coming? What is that tripping point that gets ya’ every time? Reply and let me know!! I read these messages folks…no VA who gives you a canned reply…its me…Carrie…and I want to help be a force of change in your life.
Tell me what’s holding you up and I can create some blogs, newsletters, and info to address it. Chances are I’ve been there and knowing you aren’t alone is really comforting…and if you’re struggling with it, someone else is, too. Your question/sharing can help the next person!
Fears are a guidepost, resist the urge to ignore them. I did that for a long time and it didn’t serve me. Now that I’m leaning into those fears and discomfort some real magic and progress is happening. I want that for you, too!!
Keep going your own way…because you can trust it!”
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