I’m almost 33. And I’m pretty certain that I’ve spent almost three quarters of my life agonising over the way I looked, or what people thought of me.
Why did I put myself through that time and time again? Deep down I knew there was a different way, yet I kept going. A glutton for punishment.
It’s very easy for me to see that as time wasted. But I have to come back to gratitude.
I am grateful for the lost young woman in late teens and early 20s. I am grateful for the failed relationships, negative friendships and hours spent analysing myself in the mirror with pure hate. I’m grateful because I have to be. I can’t see it as time wasted.
Those experiences, the heartbreak, the drama, the mind games, the guilt, the endless negative self-talk. They were part of my story. And they are part of what has brought me here, to this moment in time, and the life that I now have.
We wait our whole lives to “be thinner”, “have less cellulite”, “fit into the dress”, “have the perfect friendships”, “meet the perfect man”. We wait, often not-so-patiently, for the elusive key that we believe will unlock our happiness. The perfect life that we always believed we needed.
Because in truth, we actually don’t realise how incredibly BEAUTIFUL we already are. We can’t see the strength, the grace and the magnificence that lives within us.
A few weeks ago, I saw the incredibly moving film, EMBRACE (if you haven’t seen it yet, PLEASE do watch it). It was through teary eyes, that it all hit me…
I had spent far too many moments of my precious life worrying about the way I looked.
Sure, I had heard that before. “Stop wasting your time worrying about what you look like or what people think of you.” But in that moment, I truly got it. I felt it. It had finally sunk in.
I had wasted hours upon hours of time criticising my body. Hours of time worrying about what people thought of me. Hours of time scrolling through social media, comparing myself to various celebrities/friends/strangers. Hours of time wondering what was wrong with me, or why I never felt like I truly fit in.
As I sat in the cinema, I thought about the things I could have been doing instead… (*cue more tears*).
I thought I was waiting my whole life to be thin/find my tribe/let go of BS. But in actual fact, I now believe that I was waiting my whole life for this very moment. The moment that I realised that none of it really mattered in the first place (oh the irony).
What often feels like dark clouds on a stormy day, are actually an insignificant drop in the vast, wild and beautiful ocean.
It just doesn’t matter.
Instead, I will focus on the things that do matter. The love, the joy and the beauty that surrounds me. The people who love me for exactly who I am, not the person I think I “should” be (or need to be). The things I love to do that leave me feeling fulfilled, whole, radiant and connected.
It’s all been there all alone. That incredible, surprising, creative, amazing life that I dared to dream about – I’m actually here. I’m in it. And while I’ve seen it and I’ve definitely felt it before, I’ve also allowed myself to be distracted far too many times.
I don’t need to be the strongest, I just want to be strong.
I don’t need to be the tallest, I just want to keep growing.
I don’t need to love the hardest, I just want to love.
I don’t need to be the most creative, I just want to create.
I don’t need to be perfect, I just want to be me.
That movie (that oh-so-powerful movie) allowed me to see my life in a series of flashbacks. The pain, the severe lack of self-belief, and the never ending pattern that just kept on repeating.
It was finally enough. That show reel had to stop playing. And finally I got it. And I didn’t want to waste a single second more.
Is it easy to let go of that cycle? Is it as simple as saying “enough”? Of course not.
But I will try with everything that I am. And I will practice every single day for the rest of my life.
Of course it won’t be a casual walk in the park. Of course I will stumble again. Of course it will ebb and flow and twist and turn. That’s life, and I’m ok with that.
But what if we were to step away from the situation (the negativity, the drama, the comparison, the feeling unworthy), and instead of rejection, we try acceptance on for size?
Every time I go to speak negatively of myself, every time I compare myself to someone else, every time I go to tie myself in knots over what others may or may not think of me and every time I find myself getting caught up in the drama – I will stop myself, and I will choose again.
And I will keep trying and keep choosing for the rest of my life.
Because I have a magical life ahead of me (and already in front of me). And I don’t want to waste another second of it worrying, apologising or regretting.
I want to EMBRACE the person I am. I want to LOVE with everything that I have. And I want to gratefully and abundantly LIVE this life I have been blessed with.
Life is too short for waiting…