For you fellow millennials, and retirees picking up the lingo on Facebook, "the struggle is real!" The world we live in has us trapped. On one hand, if we admit that on most days we love everything about our lives, our bodies and where we are on our path, people meet that with eye rolls and shrugs assuming that there's a deep lying depression bubble buried deep inside. Yet, if we admit that we have struggles, insecurities, body image issues, or just life gets us down, the eye rolls and "suck it ups" are quick to follow. So where would you like us to live?
While I've shared bits and pieces of the highs and the lows, it's the in-between moments where the real truth lies. The moments when I look in the mirror on the way to work and think "WOW! I look great today! My face isn't as red as usual, my hair looks less frizzy, and my outfit is trendy, comfortable and cute, the holy trinity!" Or the moments when I wake up with a headache, try on countless pieces that days prior would have felt perfect, settling for a less-than but dressed look with the frustration of "this is as good as it gets" and I just have to get it over with." Those moments aren't documented. Between instagram and facebook photos sharing the deceptive lives we've created for our "world" to see, rationalizing our own worth by the number of "likes" and "comments", we become slaves to the people who, in all actuality, don't really have any effect on our lives or how we live it.
I've come to realize in my conversations with people in all aspects of life, this ebb and flow of self-love/self-deprecation is a constant. We all travel on our own peaks and valleys, learning along the way what defenses we may need to pick ourselves back up, or strength to ride the high waves longer. We've become almost immune to the thoughts in our own heads, justifying the negative and allowing it to take over. I think that's fascinating to me is I've learned that it's going to be a continuous journey. You never wake up and say "I've got it! I am me and if I were to change all of the flaws in my life or body, I wouldn't be the person I am." No, that would be simple. Instead, we live day to day learning more and more about ourselves, our minds and the world that we create for it to live in.
Working in the fashion industry has taught me a lot about myself, forced me to become honest with myself and the image I have of myself. While along the way, I've found supporters, encouragers, motivation to slowly break down the outer shell that hid who I was...and who I continue to be. There were, and still are moments of tears, looking in a mirror wondering "is this all we've got?" And yet, there are moments when I don't recognize the joyful, beautiful woman staring back at me, motivated to change her world and the world around her.
With the thought of this post rolling in my head for a while, it wasn't until this morning at church (I won't get preachy, I promise!), that I really felt empowered to finish this. The quoted passage from a verse I've heard countless times, was explained in a new way. While it's commanded that "just as I have loved you, you should love one another", mostly interpreted to overlook war, struggle, jealousy and envy to our neighbors, friends and family, the truth lies in the "as I have loved you." Unconditionally, LOVED, even with our flaws. Accepting that we are loved unconditionally by a higher power, means that we must learn to love ourselves unconditionally, too. Working towards bettering our lives in any way we know how, but staying true to love and kindness.
I didn't cry in the moment, but it sat with me. We are constantly trying to look to the future or toward others to provide that love, that we forget to look inside ourselves. "When I lose five pounds", "when I find a boyfriend", "when I get a new job"....all things that don't really affect our relationships with ourselves. Without the ability to embrace the lows, know how to pick yourself up and know that it's just a moment, not forever, and have hope that tomorrow will be a brighter day, you learn to push yourself back up, without a boost from someone else. (boosts are also always encouraged and accepted) If we constantly rely on the words or love of others, in moments when we are alone, we are truly lost. Unsure if the thoughts that roll around in our head are whispers of encouragement or darkness and anxiety. Without love for ourselves we can't address the dark and fight through it.
There will always be the moments of insecurities, the looks in the mirror where your reflection is a stranger, lost and unsure, but know that they are moments. Revel in love you've created for you, by you because you deserve it. I believe that as this love grows, we are able to share it better with our world, become stronger in our relationships with others, and empower ourselves to move onward.
Oh, and if you need an extra boost...dancing always makes life better!