Before you read this, I think that it’s important that you know the context in which it was written.
It was midnight and I had been travelling for 18 hours from Bali, where a month previously I had arrived for a solo adventure. Whilst I was there I knew that I was learning things about myself and the woman that I would like to be, but I had never stopped to tie the strings together. It wasn’t until I was in Bangkok airport, tired, slightly emotional and in a dazed state, that I picked up my journal, which I had spent an hour with every day for a month, and began to articulate these self-discoveries. The words poured out of me quickly, raw and full of emotion. It was only when I finished writing that I realised I was crying, with a few concerned faces looking at me. I’m sure that listening to Gregory Porter on repeat didn’t help (that man’s voice is ridiculous, I would recommend ‘Hey Laura’ for this kind of emotional moment). But they weren’t tears of sadness or joy, I think they were of relief.
When I read the passage back a week later I realised that what I wrote was so important I had to type it up and have it forever.
So, yes, at times this passage is intense and slightly dramatic (a key part of my personality) but when it comes to self-love and body confidence the consequences of your thought process can be just that. I’m sure that if truth be told we could all admit to a time when our body confidence has been so low, or our self-love so non-existent, that our actions have been severe.
Now these words are in black and white, as a constant reminder of the realisations and progressions that I made whilst on that trip. Please read this everyday if you need to, because I genuinely feel that this lesson can enlighten you, it made me feel like a balloon that someone had let go of. This kind of love can untie you, and make you pretty invincible…
My lesson started when I began to notice things that triggered feelings that I didn’t know had ever left my subconscious thinking, where they had lived for my entire adolescent life. As they crept back, I started to realise that I hadn’t been feeling any of my usual insecurities whilst I had been away. I realised that I had created a new mind-set, that had taken me to a new way of seeing myself and the world around me.
For years I have been suffocated by my obsession with myself. No one likes to admit it, but in admitting it I released myself from guilt and freed my mind to think about anything else other than my physical appearance. For so long I have let my body define my worth, who I am, and my idea of how people will perceive me.
When I got to Bali I really quickly got to know their ethos; because it was so simple, yet so effective. If you spend your days keeping negativity (anger, stress, worry, doubt) in your heart, then the universe will bring those attributes back to you. However, if you release your negativity, share it and rid yourself of it, all that you leave your heart open for is love and positivity, so hopefully this is what will return to you.
Once I started to put this way of thinking into practice, I began to realise what triggered my obsession and insecurities regarding the way I looked…
Firstly, other people. Whilst travelling I spent time with young women, that I deemed as beautiful, with traits that I had spent years wishing for on birthday cake candles. They spent the majority of their time voicing the insecurities that had gnawed at me for years. This vocabulary and constant obsession with anything that could possibly affect the physical, knocked me into conforming, joining in with the self-doubt and obsession. Thinking that this is the way that I should feel about myself, especially because I am definitely not the idealised body type. And let’s face it, if they’re feeling it, I should to?
I needed to create a way that, if I had to, I could be around this behaviour without letting it relate to me. I am beginning to learn that the expectations that I have of myself, cannot be what I assume of others. I noticed that when anyone began to speak about how ‘fat’ they felt or how much they had eaten, that I became defensive, perhaps in order to justify why I’m not feeling the same way, even though the system assumes that I should. Instead of being on the defence, I now remove my own personal connotations from this language. Instead I want to listen, understand how that individual feels and give the advice that I would like to hear.
It doesn’t have to be about me.
Secondly, I am let down by my own expectations of what will occur in my life when I look like the perfect form and beauty standard. This realisation really hit me, it made me feel empty and ashamed. To think that my life would be better because I looked better is a mind-set that I don’t want to live by. And yes, sadly in our time, looks can feel like everything, but surely the less we all believe in this, the less it counts for. We all know deep down that it’s just conditioning, just a long patriarchal rule that sets these standards and expectations. So, although it affects us, it definitely shouldn’t.
I know women, that in my eyes are the perfect body type yet they still have insecurities. You may ‘fix’ one physical attribute but, another will surface and will fight for your obsession. I also realised that for me, this ‘ideal’ may be physically impossible, (like really impossible, my classic line is ‘I’m just big boned!’ But to be fair, I am!). So therefore, striving for this ideal is a waste of my valuable time and energy. I will never look like Kendal Jenner, it’s physically impossible. I can now see that the things that I crave from life will come to me if I work for them, if I show my worth is more than the way that I look. (Maybe also If I had Kendal Jenner’s legs BUT ONLY because I would know I had Kendal Jenner’s legs, and would therefore walk with such confidence, I’d be an undeniable force. QUEUE ‘I feel pretty’, a slightly flawed film in my opinion but the premise is what I’m talking about here. What if in my own standard of beauty, big thighs and cellulite make you Kendal Jenner, well then, I’m going to leave my house feeling pretty powerful). I was slightly trying to prove the mind-set that we’ve been conditioned to put into practice, but got a little lost in Kendal Jenner’s legs. I’m learning, not perfect x.
Thirdly, there is a social system that strives to trigger me every day. Images of what this idealised vessel looks like, what will come to you when you have a small waist, flat stomach and big bum. How happy and fulfilled this will make you is constantly at our fingertips. People will always find weakness, and although beauty standards are ever changing, when you feel inadequate it is difficult to strive for anything less. However, I’m starting to think…
Does any of it really matter?
When experiencing mother nature’s beauty, I answered this question. There is a world beyond my circumference, beyond what I eat or upload onto instagram. There are natural landmarks that are so beautiful they take your breath away. The divine is bigger than me, more powerful than me, and undeniably more beautiful. If I strive every day to take my energy from the natural world that we are lucky enough to be a part of, then that beauty will inevitably radiate from within me.
My perceived flaws and my assets have been an accumulation of lifetimes aplenty, and whilst I nourish and care for this vessel that I have been given, with nothing but space in my heart for positivity – I will be beautiful. In whatever definition of beauty, we have.
(Pause here because I just read this back and thought ‘WOAH CALM DOWN LOVE’ but bare with me because I think to understand and snap yourself out of this way of thinking you have to get a bit wanky and a bit profound and even a bit out of your comfort zone).
Still baring with? Okay! Good, thank you x
Say this to yourself whenever you can.
From now on I will strive every day to find beauty in new forms. I will never let anyone or anything tell me or make me feel that I am not beautiful or not worthy. This life is mine for the taking and I refuse to spend it worrying about calories or how many rolls I have when I sit down.
I am me,
I am beautiful,
I will always love myself first.
I never realised how suffocated I was by this idea of ‘skinny’ ‘thinner’ ‘curvy’ everything all rolled into one. But this feeling of freedom is invaluable. It is a lesson that I will pass to everyone and anyone that will listen.
This realisation has been a miracle (imagine what I can do now) and It’s so fucking obvious. We all know someone that would say ‘If I could tell my 20-year-old self that I was beautiful and had nothing to worry about’. Well here I am and I’m listening, saving myself decades of wasted energy and miss directed negativity. I have already spent the best part of my childhood focusing on what I looked like. At school, I was called a ‘whale’ and even last week a guy in a club asked me if I had eaten, when I replied ‘yes?’ He shouted, ‘yeah a little too much mate’. But your surroundings don’t care for you as much as you can. I mean nothing to the kid at school or the man in the club so why should they show love to me? (technically they should if they’re going to learn to open their heart for love and positivity etc. but that’s their problem). I have to take my fuel from myself and not let anyone else’s opinion fuel me. It kind of works the opposite way too, I don’t want to feel beautiful or loved because someone else confirms it. Far too many times I’ve let a boyfriend fuel my perception of my own beauty. But just as quickly and flippantly as they have told me I’m beautiful, they have said to me ‘Do you really need the second piece of toast?’ This feeling has to come from within if it’s going to last.
It’s like I’ve been sleeping, drowning in my own self obsession and need to please or receive admiration. I feel uplifted, I’m a balloon soaring through the air and I’m not sure anything could pop me.
Happiness is now what I strive for, not the perfect body.
When I wrote this, I wasn’t in the western world. I wasn’t surrounded by phones and expectations. I had been living out of a backpack, with no make-up or full-length mirrors. It was so easy to believe in my beauty and to love myself whole heartedly. I know it’s not that easy. It takes work and focus and almost takes as much energy as counting how many calories are in your dinner. But, it’s so much more rewarding. Work out because it’s something to do, and you’ve found something that you find fun and it’s an excuse to see your friends (really loving boxing atm as you know, 10/10 would recommend). Eat because it’s delicious and nutritious or because you’re in a fancy restaurant where the food looks like art.
Once you start to incorporate this way of thinking everything is so much more enjoyable, so much less taxing. When you feel good inside, god knows you look good on the outside. Drink the wine, eat the cake, go to yoga, have loads of sex, do some pole dancing, as long as all of it is enriching your life. Don’t like it? Don’t do it.
HAPPINESS IS ALL I STRIVE FOR.