I’m a Bully

I’m not one to speak on this subject, really. I’m my own worst critic and an expert self-bully. I’ve spent years and years perfecting the art of belittling myself. What a shitty thing to be good at.

I caught myself doing something yesterday that I do almost every time I look in the mirror – and decided it had to stop. As I stood in front of the bathroom mirror at work, I ran through a mental list of my physical flaws. It’s a quick and compulsive response to seeing my own reflection. The entire process takes about 20 seconds, which, oddly enough, happens to be the exact amount of time needed to destroy my self-confidence. I walk away feeling something between numbness and hopelessness.

On this occasion, I actually said aloud, “Wow, you look horrible” to myself (before double-checking that I was alone). Here’s what the rest sounded like in my head:

“Yep, those deep, dark circles are still under your eyes – worse than ever. You need to go to bed earlier. Your hair is a mess. Why can’t you get your shit together? This shirt doesn’t suit you. It makes you look pregnant. What were you thinking this morning? Your hips are huge! You need to workout more.”

Now, I will admit that if another person had said that to me, I would be outraged and angry. I would be hurt and immediately remove them from my life. I can’t even imagine saying just one of those things to someone I love, or even a stranger. So, why is it OK for us to say these things to ourselves? Why is it OK for us to objectify ourselves?

These poisonous sentiments have become my mantra. Negative, horrible words I throw at my own disappointed face every day without thinking. No wonder I lack confidence and conviction. No wonder my voice sometimes comes out in little more than a whisper. No wonder my head is full of self-doubt and anxiety. I treat myself as though I have little value, and as if my value is derived from my physical attributes.

The condensed version: I’m a bully.

I wasn’t born with these beliefs about myself. As a young child, you don’t notice the differences; you embrace all people. Hate (even directed at yourself) is learned.

I learned cruelty from other children, growing up as a chubby kid. I learned failure from all of the diet plans I tried. I learned embarrassment from looking like a stuffed sausage when I tried on my skinny friends’ clothes in high school. I learned self-doubt by always watching the confident girls and never really taking the lead. I learned self-criticism from watching other girls in front of the mirror at school, most likely emulating their mothers or what they saw in the movies (see “Mean Girls”). I learned the impossible standard of beauty as it is portrayed in the media as “normal” on TV and in movies and magazines. When I was older, men reassured me through their actions that they agreed that my value was indeed connected to the physical.

My insecurity is the perfect outcome for the media. Their advertisers have the solutions to all the problems I’m eager to fix: weight loss, anti-aging, hiding all my “wobbly bits,” and cleaning my kitchen with little effort. It makes you wonder if it’s all some grand design… Maybe that voice in my head is just some old, male advertising executive.

Did you know that the current media ideal for women is achievable by less than 5% of the female population in weight and size (Katie Fox)?

The current media ideal for women is achievable by less than 5% of the female population in weight and size (Katie Fox).

All of these pieces blend together to paint a picture of the person I “should” be, but never possibly could be. And, why would I want to, anyway? In our society, the perfect woman is one that has been carefully crafted to be pleasing to a man. To quote one outspoken lady I admire, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”

We tell young girls to stand up for themselves, but, then, let them watch us criticize ourselves in the mirror. It’s time to stand up to ourselves, showing nothing but kindness. The voice in your head should be your biggest cheerleader, not your biggest critic.

I realize now that the “perfection” I grew up trying to attain is just some Hollywood magic; it doesn’t exist. I’d rather look at myself as a work-in-progress. There will always be something about myself that I will want to work on and some way that I will want to grow as a person. That’s the way it should be.

Fuck perfection.

You are who you are, not who someone else wants you to be. So, the next time you look in the mirror, see only how beautiful you are.

 

Honey vs. Vinegar

New Years Resolutions

This year is all about trying new things, taking action, and following through…

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1. Adopt healthy habits (exercise, eat healthy, cook my own meals). Follow the 80/20 plan.
2. Take more photographs, regardless of how I look.
3. Be open and honest with everyone in my life.
4. Clean and organize my things.
5. Move by the end of the year (preferably to Cali).
6. Say yes to new experiences… Try at least one new adventure every week that I’ve never done before.
7. Volunteer 150 hours by the end of the year.
8. Keep up with blog.
9. Start book. Try to finish.
10. Try guitar, again
11. Complete at least 3 MOOCs by the end of the year.
12. Brush up on French.
13. Practice yoga and/or pilates on a regular basis
14. Develop new skill (ideas: cooking, photography…)
15. Laugh as much as possible.
16. 30 minutes of meditation, 30 minutes of exercise, 30 minutes of reading/writing, and 30 minutes of brain training every day.
17. Stop letting fear control me.
18. Forgive myself and others

Self-Home-Improvement

Everyday, you are building yourself. Every thought, word, and action is a brick in the walls. Sometimes in life, you come to a point when you realize you’ve made a mistake; one of the bricks isn’t strong enough to hold the others, so you have to tear it down and start rebuilding before it all comes crashing down.

Under-Construction-1

Today’s assignment is about what was on my mind when I decided to start a blog. When I first started this blog in September 2013, I was at a very different place than I am now. I was just getting off of antidepressants, a little all over the place, and emotional, but wanted to get back to writing. As they say, ‘the darkest hour is just before the dawn.’ I repurposed this blog on January 1, 2014 to reflect on the change that I’m trying to bring into reality in my life. I realized that I had made one too many mistakes and I was starting to fall apart. I had to tear down and rebuild, starting with my attitude. Aside from making positive changes and working on my writing, I also wanted to work on feeling more comfortable with being open and honest about what I’m going through, not worrying about what other people think, and connecting with other people going through similar things.

Introducing…

I am someone who:

– loves writing, Pilates and yoga, knitting, driving with no particular destination, music, reading, movies (especially the horror genre), but who has a hard time following through.

– is constantly plagued by wanderlust and whose dream job involves traveling the world and writing, but, ironically, I think I’d hate to be a travel writer (it’s usually so superficial).

– went through 7 majors in college… English, Journalism, Business, Integrative Arts (Music Business), Media Studies, Anthropology, and Global Affairs.

– once had 19 piercings and dated a guy that wore guyliner (but that’s another story).

– struggles with a tremendous lack of self-confidence and is learning to not hate herself, because she isn’t where she thinks she should be at this point in her life and is far from the standard of beauty perpetuated by the American media.

– is more interested in improving herself than finding a new man, which I think means I’m growing up.
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I am participating in the Zero to Hero Blogger Challenge, so I’ll be writing from prompts on occasion. Today is the first day of the challenge, so the prompt is write and publish a “who I am and why I’m here” post.

First, I want to mention that I am excited to connect with new people through my blog, so if you have anything to say to me at all, whether it’s encouraging, hate (as long as you’re prepared to engage in a conversation about whatever it is you’re hating), a grammar correction, a joke, something you want me to check out, or just a hello, please leave a comment or contact me. I’ll reply.

Here goes… I’m a 28-year-old female who has a B.A. in Global Affairs and a concentration in Sub-Saharan Africa. I am currently not working. I am a chronic pain sufferer and was diagnosed with a mild traumatic brain injury after a really bad car accident almost six years ago (but I don’t plan on complaining about it frequently, if that’s what you’re worried about). I’ve struggled with depression on-and-off over the past eight years and have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. I spent the years following the accident heavily medicated and being told by medical health professionals how these things would limit me and how to deal with it. When you’re constantly focused on limitations long enough, you suddenly find yourself defined by these things. I finally got to a point where I couldn’t stand to spend another day letting that happen, so I’m trying to get my life together. I’ve lived in Northern Virginia my entire life (aside from 2 years at Penn State University, before I transferred) and I absolutely hate it. The only tolerable time of year here is autumn because the leaves are beautiful. The winters amplify my pain. I have plans to move to California at the end of summer.

My blog will be focused on (but definitely not limited to) a challenge that I came up with my friend, Andrea, after we grew bored with our lives in Northern Virginia: try at least one new experience every week. I will also talk about other things like chronic pain, getting my life together after letting it fall to pieces over the past 6 years, depression, getting healthy, setting new goals, adopting a more positive attitude, traveling, music, and more.

I am blogging, instead of keeping a personal journal, because, as I learned in my last failed relationship, I have a difficult time communicating with people, especially after the accident. At the time, I grew apart from my best friends, because I felt incapable of expressing what I was going through to them. Instead, I withdrew into myself and alienated everyone. Fortunately, writing has always been the best way for me to express myself. I think that the things I will express here will surprise people about me and you’ll probably never hear me say them outloud. Also, I have about 20 journals sitting around my room, mostly blank, that I just never followed through with over the years, so I’m hoping the change in medium will encourage me to write more. In fact, I hope to get started on a novel soon, so I can definitely use the writing practice. Since my memory is a little faulty, I think it will be good for me to keep a record of things going on, as well.

Some great writing pointers for just starting out...

Some great writing pointers for just starting out…

If I blog successfully throughout 2014, I hope to improve my writing skills, build my confidence as a writer, connect with people going through similar things, improve communication with other people, and get feedback. I hope you’ll follow my journey.

If you want more info on the Zero to Hero Blogger Challege, go here: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/zero-to-hero/

What I’m listening to as I press “Publish”: “Out of the Blue” by Prides. I can’t get over this song. Give it a listen: https://soundcloud.com/pridesband/out-of-the-blue