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The less I worry about how I look, the more comfortable I have become in my own skin.
The less I have tried to change my body, the more it has settled at a weight and shape I like.
Yes, I have a big ass, soft hips, large thighs, and my belly isn’t completely flat, but those are traits that are natural for most women and I refuse to fight nature any longer. I tried it and it just made me more hypercritical of my body. It caused hormonal imbalances that led to physical changes I was tempted to correct with plastic surgery.
The less I have worried about getting older, the younger I feel.
The less I have obsessed about being healthy, the healthier I have become.
The less I have tried to get my hair to do things it doesn’t want to do, the more I like my hair.
We live in a culture where we try to control and micromanage everything, and then we fail and beat ourselves up over it.
We have become out of touch with how things make us feel. We’re so used to forcing ourselves to do so many things we don’t like, that we can no longer rely on our intuition for anything: How we feel around certain people. How we feel doing certain things. How certain places make us feel. How certain clothes or jobs or roles we play make us feel.
It is all about how things look these days.
We scroll through dating apps looking for the guy with the best biceps and a job that makes him sound like a good person, instead of going out to meet people in real life and seeing who is generous and kind and whose presence makes us feel amazing (even if real chemistry is terrifying at first).
We do things we have done forever because we once enjoyed them—even if we now have to drag ourselves to do them.
We force ourselves through workouts and diets because experts tell us it is the best way…but in fact, the more we listen to experts, the more confused we all seem to be. We push our bodies to the limit because we are so addicted to cortisol and adrenaline that we don’t know how amazing it can feel not to feel numb.
We live in big homes, even if they make us feel miserable because we believe we should all want that. We buy condos with a gorgeous view, even if they’re incredibly hot and in a noisy neighbourhood.
We need background noise all the time because we have forgotten how amazing silence can be.
We stay in situations and environments and patterns that are familiar, even if they’re terrible because the familiar feels safer than the unknown.
All I focus on now is how things feel.
I eat what I feel like when I am hungry and savour every bite, even if it’s just some delicious sourdough bread with butter.
I walk a lot most days, and I go to dance when I feel like it—but if I’m too tired after a long work day, I skip it and enjoy the downtime. Pushing through used to mean random injuries because I wasn’t listening to the subtle signs my body was giving. I had learned to exist in some level of pain or discomfort all the time.
I sleep when I feel tired and don’t set an alarm. Usually that means I go to bed around midnight and wake up at 7:30, but sometimes after a tiring day at work, I go to bed at 8:00 p.m. and wake up at 5:00 a.m.
I wear things that make me smile when I look down and feel comfortable to wear and feel like me, not like who I want to portray.
I spend time with people whose presence feels good: Those I want to hug and laugh with and be honest with. Those I can be goofy or ridiculous in front of, who will not judge me but will absolutely laugh with me (instead of at me). Those who I respect not because they have important jobs or post on Facebook about how helpful and giving they are, but because they treat all people with kindness, respect, and patience, even when they think no one is watching.
Those who are vulnerable, not by making tragic events all about themselves, but by being honest about the shadows we all generally try to hide. Those who hear others’ pain. Those who can hear honesty, even if it is uncomfortable. Those I don’t need to drink with to have fun, although sometimes I will absolutely have a glass of delicious dark rum in their presence.
Those who are happy for my successes and sad for my failures. (And the interesting thing is that since I have surrounded myself with these kinds of people, my failures have been much more rare and far less stressful—and more great things keep happening.) Those who I don’t need do impress. We can sit on the couch in a messy room or go for a walk and have the best time. Those who offer help, even when I don’t ask, and also when I do.
These are the ones who feel the most comfortable in their own skin, and in turn, give me permission to embrace and love all of myself.
That is the thing with becoming comfortably authentic and open about who we are and what we like.
It will make some people incredibly uncomfortable. They will either adjust and be inspired to follow, or they will feel threatened and leave. It will, however, make space for those who value and appreciate honesty, and who welcome how much easier and more comfortable it is to just be happy in the moment as we are.
“At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” ~ Maya Angelou