Three years ago I thought nothing of myself, I had felt this way for years, and I was certain I would never amount to anything. I was struggling with an eating disorder, and other mental illness related issues. Even after I was recovered, it took some time to rebuild the confidence I once had.
It’s still a work in progress, but here are some things I have done so far to become the strong, confident woman I am proud to call myself today.
1. I do not base my self worth on any number, or anyone else’s opinions of me
I have no idea how much I weigh, I don’t base my worth on my IQ, or my salary. None of these metrics define me. I wake up every morning and just love everything that I am, not how it measures. If I weighed less or more, if I made more money or was traditionally more intelligent, I would not be a better person, or any more of a human than I am in this very moment.
2. I do not compare myself to others
This might be the most important change I made for myself ever. It’s so easy to compare yourself to other people around you. I remember constantly thinking to myself, “I wish I was as skinny as she is” or something along those lines about girls on Tumblr, models, and even my best friends. I remember consistently looking and my body in comparison to those around me, and feeling like it wasn’t good enough, it wasn’t small enough, it wasn’t tight enough. I did this with everything; people who were smarter than me, people who were taller than me, people who had more money than me. This was one of the least healthy habits I ever had as I went to extremes to try to achieve these “ideals” I was surrounded by.
I will never look like the girls I once idolized, I will always look like me – but hey, I look damn good.
3. I allow myself the time to love myself
I allow myself time to pamper myself, I have a skin care routine that I make into my own little spa session, and I take the time on weekends to put on as much make up as I want. Not because I need it, because I genuinely enjoy doing this.
I also take the time to be active. I’m no gym bunny by any stretch, but I take the time to get outside and get my blood flowing. Sometimes just for a stroll with my girlfriends, sometimes for a hike.
Finally, I took a leap in January and signed up for a burlesque class – which I have been attending (almost) weekly since – and this has been a huge boost for me. I get to spend my Monday evenings surrounded by sexy, confident women who are there to have fun, let loose and build each other up. I’m a terrible dancer, but I feel confident AF when I’m in my Monday evening classes.
4. I accept that not all trends are right for me
This was tough for me, as I have always been passionate about keeping up with the latest fashion trends. Every season I would try so hard to look good in the new styles that were taking off. Until one day it dawned on me – these trends are made for 6 ft tall women with legs that are longer than my entire body. Don’t get me wrong, some of those things us shorter girls can pull off, and look FIERCE in. But I had to learn to accept that some things just look like pajamas on me, and that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with me – it just means that particular style isn’t flattering on my body type.
5. I do (and eat) what I crave
Simple as that. If I want a burger, I eat a burger. If I want to suntan topless on the roof, I suntan topless on the roof. If I want to wear short-shorts to the mall, I do. Because that’s who I am, it’s what I want and I’m here to own it.
(I still follow dress codes at work, abide by the law and eat my fruits and vegetables though – because I’m not an impulsive brat all the time)
6. I surround myself with people who make me feel better, not worse about who I am
I hesitated when it came to putting this in my list – not because it’s not important, and not because I don’t value this – but because if you don’t have the rest of the list down, this will only build artificial confidence.
I am so blessed to have an amazing support network full of men and women who build me up, who love me for me and who think I’m amazing – and words can’t describe how thankful I am for this. All that being said, if I didn’t truly love myself first, I could have this amazing network, and all the self confidence in the world when people were around, and still feel worthless when I’m alone in the dark.
The importance to me, at least, isn’t the confidence I put on for the world to see, it’s the confidence I have when I dance with no rhythm alone in my underwear and there’s no one there to see it.