I was up until two in the morning, the night before. I was doubtful that what I’d prepared to present to these young ladies was good enough. Ironic, considering my session was about being confident. But, I guess how much we love ourselves, and how sure we are of ourselves, is fluid, and constantly evolving.
I felt numb and terrified as I walked into room 211 – MY ROOM.
I had the most amazing facilitator, who bent over backwards to make sure I had everything I needed and was prepared.
Thank you, Alberta Duran!
Each time she introduced me, she included some of the things I’ve struggled with – things I was about to share with these young ladies. You’d think hearing a lengthy list of all my “issues” would have made me cringe. Every part of that introduction was filled with all the things I’ve spent so much of my life trying to conceal. But, now? They’re all the things I own and embrace about myself. I was proud to hear every single word about me and my past, spoken loudly for all to hear.
We are all beautifully flawed.
I began each session by explaining that my husband had given me plenty of tips on how to stand up there and portray confidence. And, then I told them that I was completely terrified and not feeling very confident at all, since I’m so used to hiding behind my keyboard. But, I was there anyway, and maybe that is another kind of confidence in itself.
I think I must have apologized a million times to them for the fact that I didn’t wear nearly enough deodorant to mask the smell of my nerves.
I explained to them that they will hear people, again and again, tell them to get it over it, that this is just high school and they won’t care about any of it one day..that none of it would matter. I told them that couldn’t be further from the truth, that every part of it mattered. Their feelings, concerns, and worries ARE REAL, and should be validated. These struggles are no less important than the ones we, as adults, battle.
And I showed them her inspiring and powerful video.
Armed with markers and paint, I asked them if they’d like to give it a try. Because, I sure did.
Enthusiastically, they all jumped at it.
Everyone got up and began painting one another, and myself, with positive affirmations.
I had girls come up to me, with tears, looking down at their feet, explaining to me how they feel now what I had felt then…what I still feel sometimes.
I hugged them so tight…me needing their hugs as much as they needed mine.
I told them I would have hugged them so much tighter if I didn’t smell so awful.
I passed out posts I’ve written on my decade long battle with Bulimia, and others on how hard I’ve always been on myself.
And I begged them to please email me whenever they needed to talk. And, I so hope they do.
There was one girl in particular, that I cannot get out of my head. I won’t share her name here, but I do want to tell her…
You, the one with the big, beautiful, almond shaped eyes, accented with sparkly green eye shadow, I saw you and your beautiful soul in those eyes. And I am in awe of your spirit. You are so, so, SO MUCH more special than you know. You will leave a mark in this world that is bigger than any you could imagine. One day, you too, will see what others see in you. And your journey, no matter how hard at times, will help others through their own. I’m always here for you. ALWAYS. Thank you for YOU.
I am so inspired to start a program like this in school districts here in Houston. It makes no difference what color, size, shape, or socioeconomic status, girls everywhere fight the same beasts and struggle the same struggles.
We all need to work on loving ourselves more.
And, I think that starts by loving and helping others.
Why else are we here?
I can’t wait to do this again.
Only, next time, I’ll be sure to apply extra deodorant, so I can squeeze people tighter.
Thank you so much to all those who worked so hard to make this conference a reality for the young ladies of Edgewood Independent School District. And, very a special thank you to Tamara Casso, who believed I could do this, even when I didn’t.
A few months ago, I dished about some of the things I don’t like about my body. Things I obsess over. It was easy to write and, if anything, I had a hard time narrowing down the list.
After reading my rant, my sister-in-law suggested I do a follow-up consisting of things I do like about my body. I said maybe, while quietly thinking that there was no way in hell.
But, despite brushing the idea off initially, it stayed in the back of my head. I knew it was a good idea, in theory. I also knew it was a hard one.
Hard because we aren’t used to seeing the positive things in ourselves. And, even when we can, it doesn’t feel natural to say them out loud. It feels a little scary. And a lot vain.
We are so accustomed to putting ourselves down and commiserating with one another about our fat asses and bad skin, that we seldom do the opposite and lift ourselves up.
There is something very sad about that.
So, here is the challenge.
Take a moment and acknowledge at least one thing that you do like about yourself.
I challenged myself and came up with two.
I like my eyes. I like them because their color is slightly unique . I like them because so many people in my family have the very same shade of hazel. And now, so does my son. They make me feel like a part of something. Also, they never make me look fat.
I like my legs. I’ve always had calf muscles that make me proud. When I was a kid, I used to love it that they were bigger than most of the boy’s. And, while the thighs they are connected to fluctuate often, they are healthy and strong. They take me places.
Alright, so that wasn’t so bad.
Will you join me?
Can you look at yourself and see something that makes you smile? Something you wouldn’t want to change? Something you embrace?
I’ll never forget the first time I realized I had a bump on my nose. I was in elementary school. I hadn’t noticed my profile and, up until then, hadn’t cared about my looks. Or what people thought about them, anyway.
I miss those days.
I was playing with my mom’s makeup in the bathroom with one of my friends, when she made some sort of reference to the bump on my nose. I gasped, “What are you talking about? I’m looking in the mirror now, it’s not big or bumpy.”
She turned my face slowly away from the mirror and I went cross-eyed trying to get a glimpse of my profile.
And there it was.
That moment stayed with me for a very long time. It completely changed the way I perceived myself.
I had a big nose and I hated it.
Now, at 33 years old, I’ve learned to love my nose. The same nose that I used to despise. It’s me and I would never change it.
But, this isn’t about my nose, its about another part of my body I used to obsess over. One I did something about. And by something I mean plastic surgery.
My enormous boobs.
I hit puberty early and big in the breast department. There is nothing like having boobs three times the size of everyone else to make you feel even more insecure in an already unsure time in your life.
I had nicknames. I was teased. People had perceptions of who I was solely based on the size of my rack. I got a lot of attention, but not the kind I wanted.
When I graduated from high school my mother granted me the only thing I’d ever really wished for.
A breast reduction.
That was fourteen years ago and I’ve never had one single moment of regret. It was something I knew I had to do to feel like the me that I already felt like on the inside.
So, if you are thinking about plastic surgery, here is my extremely-unprofessional-I-am-so-not-a-doctor advice.
Don’t pull a Heidi Montag. And by this I mean don’t get something done just so you can look exactly like Barbie. Keep what makes you different, because that is what makes you beautiful. No, you will never look like Megan Fox, I don’t care what your doctor tells you he can do. You will just end up looking weird and plastic. If you are unhappy in general with something you can’t really pin-point, or you are simply looking to be someone else, you should visit a psychiatrist before you make an appointment with a plastic surgeon.
Do consider it if it’s one thing in particular that’s been causing you extreme pain, mentally or physically. I grew into my nose. I learned to love it and appreciate it. My boobs, not so much. My back and self-esteem were extremely tired of carrying around those things for so long. They caused me a ton of anguish, for a very long time.
Don’t go to just any doctor. Not without doing extensive research and digging beforehand. Plastic surgery is not a minor surgery and should be taken very seriously. If you’re required to sign a waiver saying the dude with the scalpel isn’t liable if you flat-line on the table, you should take some time to think this through. And by time, I mean years.
Do forget you read parts of this when I go in for a tummy-tuck in the next few years. Babies. They don’t do a body good.
And my most important advice…
Do try and embrace your individuality and love yourself a little bit harder.