"There are some of us women who have put 'focusing on ourselves' at the top of our to do lists-- and it's not because we're angry or bitter from being fresh off of a heartbreak--but rather because for some of us, turning our dreams into living realities is important. Learning how to be comfortable standing on our own two feet is important. Setting goals, and meeting those goals, is important. Creating an identity for ourselves, and being who we want to be in this world without having to check with anyone else to see if 'it's okay' with them first...is important. "
I've been rather introspective lately. For me, the start of 2017 was rocky. My three year relationship faltered and ended. It certainly wasn't mutual and left me feeling lost and self-doubting.
I feel that there's always a point after any major life change where you ask yourself some very personal questions: "What did I do wrong?" "Could I have done something different?" There's even some self-deprecating points in which I asked myself: "Could I have been more successful? Fitter? Prettier?" Would it have made a difference? No, it absolutely would not have. But the idea that I had to ask myself those questions--that I was somehow to blame--is the whole root of the issue in this blog. (There has to be a plot point, yes?)
I've always struggled with self-confidence issues. Truly, I think that most girls have. (In fact, you might be reading this blog, nodding.) I think it's bred into our culture early on in a young girl's life that the successful women are pretty. If you weren't pretty, you better be smart and have a good job. It seems ridiculous to think that the combination of brains and beauty could possibly exist!
I had always wanted to exude the kind of confidence that some women seem to have so effortlessly. I was never one for extraordinary displays of carefree inhibition. I wasn't the kind of person to spontaneously jump into a freezing cold pool in January because I was too scared of stepping out of my comfort zone. Outwardly, I portrayed myself as cool and pulled together, even if I felt like hiding inside. In fact, I was acutely self-conscious about my body.
For those of you that know me personally, this probably seems insane. But it's true! For years, I struggled with the idea of being 'perfect.' I needed to have a perfect complexion, a perfect body, perfect hair. If I was perfect, everything would fall into place. But what really is perfect? And at what point does one achieve perfection? Do you feel like you've reached peak perfection when you hit a certain weight? Do you achieve perfection when you fit into a special dress? When your hair curls perfectly? What about when you finally get engaged and married and have three babies? Is life perfect then? What does perfect mean to you?
This idea of perfect is something I've tossed around in my brain forever. For me, there never has been an achievable level. Perfect always seemed to be a hands grasp away. If you asked me, I would tell you that if I was just more dedicated, if I just tried harder, I could get there! If I just put that donut down, I could achieve my dreams! If I just worked harder, I could make more money, be more successful! Sometimes I was so engrossed in what I was doing at that specific moment, I couldn't see anything past my face.
I think many people see our lives on Instagram as perfect. The filters are perfect. The angles are perfect. We all strive to be the best examples of ourselves as inspiration to others, but we're still human. We still have insecurities; we still battle our own personal demons. We just outwardly hide it so well. Those photo outtakes never make it to the light of day!
In the early months of 2017, I learned a lot about myself. I learned that I was so much more powerful than I had ever imagined. I had a business that was exploding. I was surrounded by amazing friends that bolstered me up. I learned that I was strong. But what I also learned was that these were the things that mattered in life. I had spent so much time focusing on reaching an unattainable level of perfection, I didn't stop to see how perfect life really was.
What was most surprising was the strength of self-confidence that came with that realization. I was living for myself and it felt so good. As I approach my 30th birthday (Gasp! Cringe! Eek!), I feel that a wisdom and contentment has come over me. It has only taken me this long in life to realize that moments don't last forever. Life doesn't go according to a perfect plan. No one knows what bumps and turns there might be in the future. But life is too short to focus on the cosmetic. Far too short to focus on something that, at the end of the day, might not even matter in a year.
Here's the secret. Perfect doesn't exist. No matter how hard you work, no matter how well you diet; there is no final level to unlock. No Instagrammer is perfect. No woman on TV is, either. Perfect is defined by you. It is about feeling proud of yourself. It is feeling beautiful in your own skin. It has having the self-confidence to say, "This is me." YOU decide what perfect is. No one else.
It took me until I was 30 to realize this. For those of you still searching, it's okay to feel unsure. In fact, it's human. But self-confidence is beautiful. Being smart is powerful. Having the will to stand on your own two feet and roar is more wondrous than you could ever imagine.
What I'm trying to say is this: DO for yourself, first. Never let anybody (society or any person!) dictate how you feel about yourself. Your body is a beautiful thing--in all shapes, sizes, and colors. What your body can DO for you is more rewarding than the fittest, tannest, shapeliest body. Having the outlook and confidence to say "Life is short and I'm here to live boldly!" is what truly matters in the end. Perfect does not exist--never has and never will.
The wind will blow and mess up your perfect hair, but did you stop to notice how wonderful that fresh breeze smells?