Walking around the streets of Toronto in a bikini isn’t something I ever thought I would do (I didn’t even like going to the pool in a bikini). But, that’s exactly what I did this past weekend. Actually, when I think about it, there are quite a few things I never thought I would do and plenty of experiences I would frequently hold myself back from due to twenty-something years of being ridiculously insecure.
Insecurity is an interesting thing in the sense that it can take on completely different extremes from person to person. Even the most confident people are insecure about something, and sometimes it’s hard to identify the most insecure people of those among us. I know I definitely faked it. So, when I tell people just how bad I felt for years, they think I’m exaggerating. But, it’s true. What was going on in my head wasn’t anywhere close to the girl I was portraying every day, and if insecurity was indeed measurable, my readings would have been off the charts. I’m talking major records broken here people! In fact, thinking back (I cannot believe that I am writing this and putting it on the internet), I can’t think of a single thing I liked about myself. Not one. I won’t go into detail at this moment (which is why I will go ahead and determine this to be Part 1 of quite a few posts), but being uncomfortable with my body type quickly grew into a mindset I just couldn’t shake.
Now, before you read anymore, you have to understand a few points, that (1) insecurity isn’t necessarily logical, (2) when it’s allowed to grow unchecked it will consume every aspect of your life, and (3) when you can’t find the validation you’re looking for in yourself, you will go somewhere else to get it. The third point is why you’re reading this today.
I don’t look much different than I did a couple of years ago (the change was completely in my mindset), but back then I hated what I saw in the mirror. Just the thought of showing off my legs/chest was still very stressful for me. In fact, I would often tell myself no guy would pick me if they ever had a choice. However, despite how unattractive I felt, I found my validation in “situationships” (I use this word because I’ve only had one actual boyfriend in my 25 years of life). That makes no sense at all, right? Well, refer to my first point in the paragraph above.
In these “situationships”, I often found myself tolerating all kinds of lies and disrespect from guys I shouldn’t have been dealing with in the first place, but out of fear of the inability to find something better, I was left trying to fix things that weren’t worth my time. Even when I encountered a good guy, my own jealousy, doubts, and anxiety would tear the situation apart from the start (yes, women can hurt men… we can talk about this later, Part 1 remember?). Either way, as someone who didn’t love herself, I had no business trying to create love with someone else. It was selfish. There’s really no other word for it… How else would you describe an empty vessel hoping to get full from someone else’s supply?
I write all of this to say that I think this is the freedom I enjoy most now that the weight of all of the insecurity is off of me. Actually, I know it is. The freedom from validation. Sure, it’s nice to love my body, talents, and super-weird-introverted-nerd personality, but it’s even nicer not having to go to someone else to help me do that. For the first time I’m truly “single”, and I don’t feel empty or lost. For the first time I’m not franticly trying to fill a void with anyone who gives me attention. For the first time I’m not pretending to be someone that I’m not.
It’s hard to describe and may even sound dumb to you, but I wake up and the sun shines brighter than I’ve ever seen it. I’m happy. I look in the mirror, still happy. I pick up my (dry) phone, still happy…