I often find myself being asked how I manage to have so much confidence.
The fact of the matter is, I’m not extravagantly confident. I check my eyeliner in the rearview mirror when I’m getting out of the car. I frequently use other cars (and any shiny surface) to check my reflection throughout the day, and make sure I’m still all put together. I haven’t embraced the crop-top trend yet, because I’m not a huge fan of the look for myself, personally. I keep buying pairs of shorts, and then not wearing them in “super public” places.
When it comes down to it, however, it is true that I’ve invested a little time and effort into being a more confident and genuine person.
It started as pretending not to care what people thought. Pretending that their mean words, loud whispers and cruel jokes didn’t bother me. Telling myself that even though I knew that they were right, I wouldn’t let them ever know I believed anything they said. But then a funny thing happened: It all became so … real.
A series of events led me find that there is so much more to life than focusing on what anyone else has to say about my life, how I live it and how I decide to look while I do. I’d rather love myself for my good parts versus the bad others choose to see when they merely look at me for the first time. In fact, I think it says more about them than me.
And so I set out to show myself that I didn’t have to fake it anymore. No more pretending. It was time to acknowledge that I AM awesome. And I am only human, but I’m not a crappy human, and that’s enough for me.
Here are just a few ways you can make sure you take time to honor yourself, love yourself and remind yourself that you are loved by the No. 1 person in your life: Yourself.
1. Write a list of 10 things you love/appreciate about yourself or your life that don’t involve your weight or flaws.
Focus on the positive. Whether you choose to acknowledge it (yet) or not, you are phenomenal!
2. Focus on goals that take you out of your comfort zone and remind yourself of all that your body can do.
I’m working on this a lot myself and recently started my “27 Things for My 27th Year” project to ensure the fun continues! I went ziplining once. I climbed a mountain in the dark to catch a sunset. I scaled a rock wall on a hike to avoid the mileage back to the car. Also, I recently did a 15K with a friend and have plans to go skydiving before my next birthday. Ask the old pretending me if she ever would have registered for a run. Like, paid to do one. On purpose. For fun.
3. Spend some quality time with yourself.
You carve out time for everyone who’s important to you. Block your schedule and go to a matinee alone, take a spa day, splurge on the more-expensive pedicure and read gossip magazines … Whatever makes you happy, try it solo and connect with yourself.
4. Surround yourself with positive people, and distance yourself from exhausting people, too.
Life is way too short for people who never have anything nice/helpful/supportive to say. It took me way too long to realize I don’t need to feel obligated to deal with it. Negativity isn’t the only thing that can drain you and affect your stress level or mood. People who ask for the same advice and never take it, people who lean on you to solve their problems, people who depend on you for your unwavering loyalty but never return the favor? You don’t need them around all the time, either. They’ll be fine without you.
5. Be mindful of the messages all around you.
The “perfect” Victoria’s Secret bikini body. The idea that flat abs and blonde hair are the only tools you need to succeed. These messages are subtly (and sometimes not-so-subtly) permeating our lives with ideals that aren’t generally achievable if you’ve got a job, an education to pursue and/or family obligations. True beauty is a state of mind. No night cream, serum, lip gloss, eyelash extensions, yoga pants or diet regimen can make you worthy of adjectives like “compassionate,” “kind,” “thoughtful” or “amazing.” Don’t limit your beauty to materialistic and aesthetic features.
There isn’t a department store on the planet that can sell you a beautiful soul. Realize that you’re more than what the magazines say you can buy, and know your worth lies in the impact you make — not whether or not you have a four-pack and strappy bathing suit. I learned more about this recently from Katie H. Willcox, founder of Healthy is the New Skinny. I had moments where I was really proud of how aware I am — and others where I thought, “OH! MY! WHAT?! I did NOT catch that!”
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6. Ask yourself, “Why do I feel like I have to be somebody else?”
There are so many people who love you without all the frills. My aunt sat me down when I was 15 or 16 and asked me why I didn’t feel like I could be myself. I think I cried every night for a week, knowing that my secret Little Debbie snacks and wrappers under my bed had been discovered. I grew up with my dad restricting my food intake and criticizing my weight when we had to shop in the women’s section at stores. I felt like wanting snacks made me uglier — and bad.
That question has never left me. It helped me get to where I am today. And whether I am making kale chips or eating donuts, I know that those I surround myself with aren’t paying attention to my plate. They love ME. The girl behind the plate.
These are just some of the ways to remind yourself everyday that you are more than a size on a tag or an opinion from some closed-minded nobody.
Spend a little extra time loving yourself here and there, and I promise it becomes second nature. But learn from my experience and make it genuine from the beginning. Because you and I are worth every praise, every calorie and every champagne toast.
We are amazing, beautiful, inspiring and brilliant.
And there is no measure of body weight or material items that could possibly calculate the extent of it.