I discovered something about myself this weekend and it wasn’t what I was expecting.
I attended the Social Good Summit in New York City (more to come on this later) and got to hang out with about twenty of the most interesting bloggers I know. We chatted about everything from our passions to our business to our backgrounds. It was a fantastic meeting of the minds and I left truly feeling like part of a team.
But I didn’t start the weekend that way.
I started in the same way I usually do for a trip: I plan every outfit.
The rest of my life might be chaotic but when I go on a trip, I intend to have everything in order. I plan what to wear during the day, during the evening, on my feet. What makeup I’ll wear, what earrings I need. And only once in a while do I actually forget something (this time, it was a toothbrush and toothpaste).
When I’m in an unfamiliar environment, dressing by the numbers eases my stress and gives me one less thing to worry about. But, oh, how I worried as I was packing. The dress for this weekend was business casual and I intended to look the part of a professional blogger (whatever that may be).
As I invaded my closet, I made some startling discoveries. My dress pants were too tight. My nicer shirts were too tight. My cardigans were too form-fitting. My dresses were too revealing or just downright unflattering. I think it took me two hours of nonstop try-on-take-off before I finally found clothes that would make me feel less like a whale squishing into a guppy dress and more like a cleverly disguised muffin.
I felt mostly confident in what I was wearing all weekend. Mostly. My hair was another story. After an unsatisfactory haircut last week and little self-trimming, I looked in the mirror and was pretty sure I saw the hair from my middle school days. So up in a ponytail it went. All weekend.
But confidence waned again on the first full day of the summit. We had attended several closed door sessions with some pretty impressive people. I was inspired, sure, but what really got me was the feeling that had been hiding all weekend. The feeling of inadequacy.
As we walked into the summit, I turned to two of my fellow bloggers and said (hot on the heels of my post last week), “Don’t you ever feel like you’re not doing enough? Don’t you ever feel like it’s so late in life and what have I done to make a difference in the world?”
And they both looked at me and said no.
They both exuded confidence in themselves and pride at all of their accomplishments. There’s always more to be done, sure, but they felt they were already contributing and making a difference in their own way. Why didn’t I feel that way?
And that’s when I realized that I need to have a serious talk with my self-esteem.
There are parts of me that I don’t like. Parts of me that say you’re not good enough. You’re not doing enough. And it’s time for that to stop. I have a specific plan to help me work on those feelings.
But there are other parts that are a little more difficult to work on. And it’s not just self-esteem. It’s self-loathing and it’s a really awful thing.
I constantly look in the mirror and see what I don’t want to see.
– I have too many freckles.
– I have a bump in my nose.
– Is that an age spot on my arm?
– What comes after muffin top? Because that’s what I’ve got.
– My shoulders are rounded.
– My feet are too fat.
– My eyelids are droopy.
– My face isn’t symmetrical.
– My hair is thinning.
You get the idea, right?
No, I’m not some crazy vain person. I don’t expect a movie star body (not without lots of workouts and maybe a little plastic surgery). And logically, I understand that everything I mentioned above are simply factual statements.
But these are facts that I don’t like. These are facts I think about every time I try on clothes or even simply look in the mirror. And it’s not healthy for me to keep thinking this way. Because sometimes I think the lack of physical confidence leeches into my personal and professional confidence. I’m ready to change that in a bold way.
I’m going on a journey to love and appreciate me and my body and I want you to come along. Maybe even participate.
It’s a project I’m starting sometime in the next few weeks and the real idea came to me over the summer at a blogging event.
I was fortunate enough to have time to hear some photography tips from the talented photography team of Todd and Diane (known as @WhiteOnRice). I went expecting to hear about shutter speed and aperture and lenses and other equipment. They actually ended up talking to use about the more esoteric qualities of photography.
They showed some nice engagement photos they had done for a couple. Something you might see in the newspaper. And then they showed photos that weren’t posed. These were real moments between the young couple, caught on film. The photos showed anything but perfection. Instead they exuded the couple’s real personality and playfulness and emotion.
And that’s when Todd and Diane said the magic words: embrace the imperfection.
That’s exactly what I plan to do.
I’m starting something called Embracing the Imperfection.
It’s a project that I’m still formulating in my mind but it’s a project I’d love to have you take part in with me. I want to take back my body and my confidence in a way that is so bold, I’ll have no choice but to love myself again. And if maybe there’s a little self-loathing in your life, we can do it together.