I accepted an Instagram challenge from my beautiful friends Nicole Mehl and Annie Cline of “Beauty in the Light” to reveal three things about myself that most often, we keep to ourselves for fear of judgment and frankly, because we’d rather no one know that part of us. I wanted to take up this challenge because while social media is fun and exciting, it is always one-sided in that all we ever see is the good side of people. But in reality that profile picture on Facebook or Twitter of you hiding behind a hot pair of shades, or smiling while suntanning in a skimpy bikini on the beach, chances are, it’s not truly you.
You can be the most beautiful person in the world, have the best and noble job, and everybody will see joy and rainbows when they look at you but if you’re not living truthfully, none of it matters. Life is about balance and accepting who you are and that includes your dark parts—the parts you feel society would judge you for. That fine balance is the key to living fully. I may not be strong, but I am attempting bravery.
Since my Instagram is private (and I prefer it that way), I wanted to share my three stories of heartache, anxiety, and body image:
Heart and Souls
In the past five years, I’ve been a frequent visitor to a realm of heartache I never imagined I’d be in. I’m not proud of it, but I cry a lot. Many see it as a sign of weakness—and maybe it is, but some days I just cannot take it, so that’s the only way I know how to deal. It boils down to love and fear. I’ve loved someone so hard and continue to so much, that there is no other way to express it but cry. Constantly. Not being fully heard or cared for by the one you love (and happens to be the best friend) is a pain I don’t wish on anyone. Had I known before befriending him what it would do to me today, I would keep an arm’s length instead of wearing my heart on my sleeve and having him constantly confuse me and lie. He makes me happy, but I smile on the inside when it comes to him in fear I would lose such happiness if I publicly acknowledge it.
Talking helps, but most times it’s a vicious cycle no matter what is said and by whom. Most times, I rather leave it under the rug for reasons I can’t explain. I cry on days that you might even see me laughing or smiling. I cry on days I’m heading to parties. I cry myself to sleep most nights. I cry not just because of this broken heart, but also for fears that plague a lot of us like failure and future. I am optimistic for myself. I want picket fences, kids, a career I can be proud of—and I know I’ll get them one day but anticipation hurts. When I miss the mark (like on a test this past week), that hurts too. Maybe all the crying ties into insecurity but whatever it is, I’m dealing with this darkness. I talk to God constantly in knowing He’ll look out for me and this will all account for some greater understanding.
Feelings are not about good or bad, right? It’s just what it is no matter how murky.
I’ve struggled with anxiety but have never really spoken about it publicly. I mention it here and there, but always get the “But you’re so strong” statement so with that, the conversation ends. I have symptoms ranging from extreme fear and panic when things go awry, forgetting how to swallow in the middle of a meal, sleepless nights and lately, rashes.
When the best friend and I had a convo one night, he basically said I worry too much (who hasn’t said this?) and then it hit me: I really am. I worry about everything and from 800 miles away, he, among my other best friends could see that. Since then, I’m reassured to “always smile” and “go with the flow.” And I’ve been trying my hardest to do that, but life, as cliché as it sounds is TOUGH. I worry about the stupidest things, all the way to the unforeseen. For instance, my sister is officially in remission from Crohn’s disease. She battled it since 17 (now 34) but there’s an ugly thought in the back of my head—an expectation of how life can be, that what if she gets sick again? What if she has to get another 12″ of her small intestine removed? IF. All these unnecessary “ifs” swim in my head, whispering, haunting, creeping on me while I read, drive, watch TV. I’m somewhere else, thinking about something that doesn’t even exist! I know things in life happen for a reason and what is to come, will come if God wills it. He doesn’t put you in situations you can’t get out of. Sometimes He puts you through tests and challenges because He knows you can overcome them.
Lately I’ve been trying to stop the “ifs” because one of the greatest mistakes I could make in this life is continually worrying about what hasn’t come. Why do we worry? If it’s suppose to happen, it’ll happen and nothing will stop it from happening. Everything has a reason, and worrying about tomorrow today is not going to help anything. Never live in fear and worry—something I am still working on.
The Mirror Has Two Faces
In my final post for the #realandhonesttruth challenge, I will be sharing an insecurity that plagued me my whole life and sometimes still does. I’ve never been especially proud of my body. When puberty hit, not only did I get hairier but I was a pretty chubby kid and would blossom over the next few seasons into a comfortable size 14. I got made fun of and teased, and at one point in high school was called “fat bitch” everyday by a bully when I had to constantly ask her to please move so I could get to my locker. It bothered me often because on top of the weight issue and dark hair all over my body, I had “vampire fangs” (impacted canines). It was only until after high school that my parents got me braces and I ended losing a significant amount of weight after moving from our tiny apartment to a house up north. Living near the woods motivated me to get out a lot. I ended up sizing down over the years in a healthy way.
When my braces got out, I felt like, “Oh, I can be pretty,” and started liking myself more. I started experimenting with hair dye too and ended up with what you see today. But some days it’s hard. Because I was overweight for so long and conditioned to believe I wasn’t beautiful, I still struggle with the unhappy body image thoughts. Most times, directing such upset to the parts of my body that I don’t find pretty. These lies about me creep in on low days and eat up positive thoughts. That being said, I know I’m flawed and imperfect, but who isn’t? Looking at the media today, I realize, we’ve all been conditioned to look a certain way, but which is the right way? God made me the way I am and there’s nothing I can do to change it. If you lose all confidence in your body, you’re going to go down a spiral of mental and emotional loss in yourself and that’s not good. I was blessed to have good friends and family around to keep me sane and love me for me. Today, I still love good food, dream about it often, and love photographing it. Women who can love themselves or at least, learn to are probably the best thing out there, and I commend you.
You’re more than welcome to take part in the Instagram challenge too. And high-five to you if you knew where those headings for each story came from.