Confidence is an interesting thing. Having a lack of confidence can lead to all sorts of forms of self-hate, like down talking oneself, over-eating, involving oneself in reckless behaviors, developing depression and self-loathing, and more. Having too much confidence can be a bad thing too - but only if it is false confidence; the kind that puts others down and gives you an egotistical, self-righteous attitude. You know what I mean. And that kind of blatant over confidence is usually just a mask for a lack of real confidence anyway.
So what is real confidence anyway? Loving yourself? Embracing yourself, flaws and all? Not worrying about what others think? Yeah, pretty much. It is the idea that you have gratitude for what you have been given and you KNOW it's great because it is YOU!
I used to lack confidence. Big time. Part of it was because I had this idea in my head that everyone had to love me; that if someone DIDN'T love me, it was something I was doing wrong. I was putting the responsibility of other people's feelings onto myself!! Crazy! Another part of it, was that I didn't LOOK like the "popular girls" in school or my favorite celebrities, and as someone who loved (and still loves) the idea of fame, success, and celebrity, that bothered me. I couldn't see all the beauty I had right there in front of me; all I saw was fat... & of course, all I thought I lacked.
Which is still kind of strange to me... For basing so much of what I thought about myself on what others thought, I never let the positive side of that affect me. It's weird! I mean, I NEVER had a problem getting a boyfriend (or male attention. Or female attention.) I could flirt with the best of them! People THOUGHT I was attractive and confident. You would think that maybe that would have helped ME think I was attractive and confident. But it didn't. My "false" confidence that I put out there (to be loved) was simply a mask, and it covered my insecurities well. However, my true nature was always revealed...
Most boyfriends I had got too overwhelmed by my excessive need for acceptance and confidence boosting that they would simply check out. Dump me. Other boyfriends used it to their advantage to manipulate me and control me. But I still didn't understand what real confidence was; and I sure in Hell never thought I would have it.
At the beginning of my transition into adult life, when I was a senior in high school, I was 5'9", I weighed 134 lbs, and I looked good! But in my eyes, I was ugly. Hideous even. I was obsessed with looking in the mirror, not out of a narcissistic need to view my beauty, but out of an out of control desire to talk myself down! I projected confidence and happiness without, but inside, I was miserable. And I could see that, even through my self-loathing, every time I checked the mirror...
Then, there was college. In college, my confidence issues had a little less to do with weight and looks, and a bit more with overall "image." I was a bit of a novelty. I was a hippie, bohemian, free-spirit roaming the grounds of a university in the Bible belt of Michigan. Some friends in the music department lovingly called me "Topanga" and people joked that they liked having me around just because I was "just so different!" It's a compliment and a curse, is it not? I felt like I had expectations to live up to. But why? Why couldn't I just be me?
Much of my time in college was spent eating these feelings away and getting depressed and gaining weight...
-Entire boxes of fudge rounds
-4 bottles of Mountain Dew a day (at least!)
-Carbs!! (I even had a button I used to wear that read "I LOVE Carbs.")
-And very little exercise (with the exceptions being the occasional few months that my roomie & I would get on health kicks)
At first, I just accepted my weight gain as normal. "The Freshman Fifteen." But the "Freshman Fifteen" turned into the "Sophomore Sixty!" By the time I was a Senior in college, I was 189 lbs. Wow. Around that time, my boyfriend of over four years cheated on me. I felt like the ugliest person on the planet.
So I tried to get fit. I worked out. I tried to eat better. That whole summer my boyfriend and I (I stayed with him...) worked out together. And I saw some progress. It was there. But it didn't stick.
By the time I graduated college, I was down to about 160 lbs. Not bad for someone my height. But that is also when everything fell apart.
My boyfriend & I became engaged, but then we ended it completely. It was hard & heartbreaking, & though it needed to be done, & I did it... I felt like a failure. I also started working in my first "real world job..." in the inner city... where I was over worked, under supported, and sick ALL THE TIME!
I was a wreck. I started hanging out with my new boyfriend in East Lansing a lot & eventually made a ritual out of getting drunk every weekend with his neighbor. EVERY WEEKEND!
Eventually, I realized that if I didn't change something(s), not only would my new relationship be just as doomed as the last because I thought so little of myself, but I would LOSE myself completely! I was becoming an alcoholic, & not to mention, fatter & fatter all the time. So I started to try to turn my life around.
But even as I was trying to make healthier choices, trying to boost my confidence (with the help of my amazing boyfriend Will, my friends, & family), working out, & treating myself a little better, I couldn't seem to lose weight, so I would continue to get very down on myself. Finally, I thought, "maybe I'm just sick." I had already lived with chronic illness for years (chronic pain, chronic UTIs, IBS, ovarian cysts, kidney cysts, allergies, seasonal depression & anxiety) so it didn't seem like a stretch to think that maybe there was something else wrong with me. And you know what: I really WAS sick. Well, more sick. I was diagnosed with a chronic illness called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome - Hypermobility, a gluten-intolerance, & vitamin deficiencies. I also had to have surgery to have polyps removed from my vocal cords.
But more importantly, as I found out just what horrible shape my body was in, & I had my surgery, I realized that my connection to my body, to nature, to life, to LOVE was sick too. That was the most devastating news of all.
By this point in time, I was 198 lbs. It was 2009. I was the heaviest I have ever been in my life! In some peoples' eyes, maybe even the least attractive I have ever been; & that is exactly when I found REAL confidence.
I became a writer online in 2009. It started with my blogs & eHow, & it steadily grew from there. In my writing, I was constantly trying to help others, teach them to love themselves & others, & encouraging the world to spread peace & love. As my presence online grew & as people told me how much I helped them & how beautiful I was, I started to really question all the feelings I held for myself.
I asked myself why I thought other people should feel happy with themselves if I didn't feel happy with myself? My own internal answer surprised me - "they deserve it." Wait... why didn't I?
So I stopped the negative talk. I stopped looking in the mirror so much. I tried to be grateful for what I had, what I was, & what I could be! I imagined myself as a confident goddess & I told myself I could command any room I wanted. And you know what? It started to work. I was 198 lbs, & so happy with myself & how beautiful I was! Yes, I was confident when I was FAT! Take THAT modern entertainment & media!!
But I still wasn't as healthy as I wanted to be. Luckily, with confidence comes the drive inside that says "Bring it! I can conquer any challenge!" So I followed my doctor's advice & went gluten-free for a year to "reset my system," truly learned to listen to my body, & changed my entire outlook on healthy eating, exercise, & really, LIFE!
But I truly believe that if I had not found that confidence, at my lowest (and highest, weight wise) point, I would not be where I am today. Why? Well, I think it's easier to be confident when you fit a certain stereotypical norm of physical beauty. People surrounding you point out your good points continually, because they are more evident to them; you can relate to celebrities & models in magazines; you can see society's descriptions of beauty when you look in the mirror; it's completely different!
(NOTE: This is not to say that super beautiful people by societal norms don't have confidence issues. Some do, of course. They should not be looked upon negatively due to my opinion & should most definitely be helped if they have issues!)
So, I am so grateful & happy that I became CONFIDENT when I was FAT!
It has given me that much more time to grow as a person & become even more confident as I became more healthy & connected to this world. It has given me a strength that I never knew existed within me. And most importantly to me, it has helped me embrace peace & love in a whole new way, & as I feel it is my life mission to spread peace & love, this is truly a most cherished blessing for me!
The confidence that I gained back in 2009 & that I continue to help flourish now, has the power to bring me to tears... of happiness. I feel so grateful, so lucky, so proud. This confidence has helped me:
-Regain faith in myself & my talents
-Embrace peace, love, & compassion for humanity in a whole new way
-Look more appealing to others (& appreciate the sentiments, but don't rely on them)
-AND SO MUCH MORE!!
I can't even describe how much confidence (& just pure love for myself) has helped me. I feel like I am constantly receiving new positive gifts in my life just because I love myself, I have confidence in myself, & I continually try to be more positive.
I want so much for all of you to experience those same kinds of gifts.
I do hope my story helps.
FAT. SKINNY. BIG. SMALL. TALL. SHORT. OLD. YOUNG.
WHATEVER YOU ARE IS BEAUTIFUL!!
-Stop with the down talk. Replace it with positive words.
-Love yourself; flaws & all.
-Make a true effort to see the beauty in yourself that others see.
-But stop looking in the mirror so much!
-And don't just "fake it til you make it!" It helps a little, yes. But if you are having a hard time truly maintaining a higher level of confidence & inner positivity, TELL someone who loves you & wants to help. Even if you don't want advice; still tell someone. Let them know that you just need them to listen. It's okay.
-Try to be grateful. If you really think about it, there is a LOT to be grateful for.
-Stop comparing yourself to others! They are probably comparing themselves to you too; thinking that they are flawed compared to some attribute that they've deemed perfect on you! It does no good... We are all unique; beautiful in our own amazing ways. Sometimes we find others who share some similar beauties, & that's groovy. But truly, we are all so different that to compare ourselves like that is such a waste of time; of LIFE!
And as a final note, I would just like to say that I hope you noticed that I included absolutely no pictures in this post, nor did I give you my "secrets" for losing weight & looking the way I do now. Because I hope, that if you read this whole thing, that you realize my point. In the end, it's not about how you LOOK at all; it's about how you FEEL. It's about how you THINK. It's about LOVE. For none of those things do we need the judgment of our eyes.
Peace & Love to ALL!