Saturday, 4 April 2015

You are good enough.

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On the morning of 19 March this year, a male shouted out of the top window of a half-way house “you fucking fat c*nt” as I walked down the street. And this was how I reacted on the day:

Now, a few years ago, I would have burst into tears at that remark. Hell, a boy said “look at the state of her” to me in year seven and I ran all the way home crying uncontrollably. But thanks to wonderfully strong women in my life like my mother, I’m a lot more sure of myself now – and although we may not see it at the time, these horrible humans who use words to degrade others, actually end up helping us grow and progress further.

For the record, I’m a UK size 12-14, five-foot-eight and probably weigh a little more than the BMI scale would like me to, but hey! I’ve got 34E boobs and an arse that could house a small town.

I’ve always thought I was fat. Whether it was when I was 8 years old getting changed in the toilets at primary school, when I first considered making myself sick at 14 years old and even now at 20 years old. Needless to say, when I look at older photos: I wasn’t fat. At all.

Fair enough, I’m chubby now – comfortability in relationships and final year at university does that to you. I’ve always had a big baby face, I’ve always had an arse and chunky thighs (cheers Hodge genes) and there’s no doubt that I’ll always find faults with myself. Who doesn’t? We are our own worst critics. Fact.

But why do we do it? We tell ourselves we’re not good enough. We get jealous of Sally down the street who has a brand new car, does her weekly shop at Waitrose and speaks 4 languages fluently. We ask ourselves why we haven’t got our shit together like Sally. But the fact is, Sally probably doesn’t have her shit together either.

Inner discontent gets to us all at some point. We’re always thinking we should be better, smarter, prettier, faster, more organised. We have high standards for ourselves and hate it when we don’t achieve the unattainable goals we set. We ignore the amazing qualities we already have to try and be more like Sally. We watch TV and read magazines wishing our own lives away for someone else’s.

Seen or unseen, most people are on a journey to self-improvement, hoping that with just a little bit of work, they’ll miraculously feel better about themselves: na├»ve to the fact that they’ll find something else they want to change almost instantly.

Now, I’m not saying change is bad: if you want to learn to run, you run until you can’t run no more. If you want to lose weight: I’m behind you every step of the way. If you want to learn a language: you learn the shit out of that language. But just know, that if you don’t do it, you’re not a failure and there’s a whole alphabet left if plan A doesn’t work out.

We’re bombarded with messages from being children that we need to be better. Our teachers commented on our lack of progress, children at school were baffled that you wore Velcro shoes because you couldn’t tie your shoe laces yet, your parents pointed out the one D on your report card before congratulating you on the nine As. Even as we grew up, the media told us that if we’ve got shiny hair, a small waist, no cellulite and a pretty face, we’d get everywhere. Naturally, not everyone is so lucky.

We then forget about our own needs and try developing ourselves into someone else’s ideal image. We crave the love from others and forget self-love: accepting ourselves unconditionally. In the memoir Eat, Pray, Love, author Elizabeth Gilbert ends her marriage and leaves everything behind to travel the world. A poignant quote that stands out to me is when she’s sat on a tiny beach alone and tells herself aloud: “I love you, I will never leave you and I will always take care of you.”

It’s a perfect example of self-love. It means accepting that you can’t do everything perfectly because nothing is perfect. And deep inside of us, we do have a teeny weeny sense of security that comes out every so often. Mine came out when the pleasant gentleman at the half way house called me a “fucking fat c*nt.” Rather than letting him defeat me, I reminded myself that in fact, I’m doing a shit-tonne better than him in life. And for once, I treated myself how I would comfort a friend in the same situation; reminding myself of the fucking amazing qualities I do have.

And I think that’s what we need. An important step to self-love is being good to yourself, like you would a best friend. You wouldn’t tell a friend “actually you could do with losing weight like that guy said” so why tell yourself that? You don’t expect perfection from anyone else and you appreciate everyone else’s positive qualities so don’t push your own qualities aside for someone else’s. Build on what you’re good at and the rest will come. And remember, you are good enough. Always.

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