I'm guest posting about my own body image issues over at In Bed With Books today. So check that out (or not...just kidding!). I also have a very special guest - Kristi from The Story Siren. *applause*
Self-Esteem, Self-Confidence, Self-Doubt and Myself
To understand my story, I think I should explain or rather clarify what exactly these three terms mean to me.
Self-esteem: Webster defines it as a confidence or satisfaction in ones self, but I think there a deeper meaning there. I think self esteem is more of how we identify with ourselves personally. How in control we let other’s be of our life, is in direct correlation of the levels of self esteem. Feelings and emotions, fall in this category as well.
Self-confidence: Webster defines is as confidence in ones self and in one’s powers and abilities. This I think is an accurate description.
Self-doubt, which is, I believe, the lack of self confidence.
And then of course there is me. I remember when my self esteem faltered. It’s ridiculous to think upon it now, and perhaps the fact that I can even recall the event is slightly disturbing and most likely unhealthy. But it inevitably started a down-ward spiral, that continued. And unfortunately still makes an appearance to this day.
I had a guest post with an author, Mari Mancusi, and it is one that really sticks out in my mind. She was taunted as a child, bullied out of an activity she liked, because someone else thought it was uncool. I suppose that one stuck out so much to me, because I didn’t need a physical bully telling myself, I wasn’t good enough. I had an internal bully that was there every day, telling me that I would never measure up.
Middle school was hell. And then came high school, which was even worse, but now, lets talk about middle school. I moved to a new school in middle school. Which was hard enough, being a very shy person, not to mention my internal bully. I’ve heard girls talk about developing early and the awkward stages of having a newly developed body. Personally I never had to deal with that end of the spectrum. What I saw, was all the other girls with their curvy developing bodies, full of confidence and demanding attention from all the boys ogling their newly developed breasts. While as I, flat as a board and straight as a board, prayed every night that God would grant me with a pair of breasts. (I’m still waiting God.) Waking up extra every morning to expend abnormal amounts of time in front of the mirror, wishing I could change the image looking back at me. If only I was her, if only I was smart, funny, athletic. I tried to be that Me, I wanted others to see.
God must of heard my prayers because the summer before I started high school, he granted me those curves. Well some of them anyway. And do you think I was happy? Of course I wasn’t, those curves made me look fat and not only did I sprout curves, but I also sprouted a bad case of acne. Of course I blamed it on God and his sadistic sense of humor. Luckily I never developed an eating disorder, although I won’t say that my eating habits during this time were at all healthy.
Still trying to project that Me, I wanted others to see. When you don’t think very highly of yourself, you can’t expect other people too either. Which is probably how I ended up dating a loser, who not only made me feel worse about myself than I already did, but also used that knowledge to control me. During this time I became the Me, someone else made me. My self-esteem was at an all time zero. And it wasn’t only my loser boyfriend making me someone else, it was my friends and my family too. And I often wonder in that time, if I cheated myself. If I settled for a college close to home because I thought I had no other choice. If I neglected a dream because I doubted my abilities. Don’t let your lack of confidence stop you.
What finally brought me out of my stupor, I’ll never know. I think it was probably a combination of things. And honestly it was probably something stupid, maybe a book I read, a movie I watched, a positive comment, whatever it was, something happened. I dumped my loser bf, cut off all my hair, got my braces off. And there I was, that ME, I wanted to be! Sure, I was still that timid shy girl, that hardly spoke up, but at least I found my voice. No amount of personal growth comes without pain. I still look in the mirror and find my faults. I still have more acne that my adolescent patients, God still owes me a set of curves! It only I could lose those forsaken love handles!
But honestly, I’ve learned to accept what faults I think I have. I’ve mastered my makeup technique and can almost make even the wickedest zit disappear, or at least appear smaller. I’ve accepted that my boobs will probably never get any bigger, but that is okay because Victoria Secret makes a push-up bra. I’ve learned to love myself in the simplest way, and have been rewarded with the love of others.
Knowledge is the first step in the purging process. And even with that knowledge, I falter. I had so many comments after my posts of my author signing that I was pretty. And do you think I believed them, do you think I could accept a compliment, without a grimace! It was hard, but I made myself. And I’ll continue to make myself, because ultimately the choice is mine! I’m beautiful!
The hardest challenge is to be yourself in a world where everyone is trying to make you be somebody else. ~E. E. Cummings
(Lenore's note: I am also thankful for the push-up bra!)