Whatever, I Do What I Want
Some of you may recognize this quote from the always classy and quotable South Park. I kid, I kid! But really, this statement made by Eric Cartman has been on my mind since I decided to start seeking MY passion/bliss/dream.
I’ve been proud of myself the last few months in that I am slowly (but surely) learning to ignore that nagging voice that says ‘but what will people think?’ and replacing that with the aforementioned title of this post. It doesn’t come easy yet, but I know that with practice it will.
I grew up extremely self conscious and worried constantly about what other people thought of me. My fear of failing at ANYTHING kept me from doing a lot of things I wanted to do. I wanted to try out for cheerleading, run for student body and maybe try out for a play or two. But my need to appear “perfect” paralyzed me with fear of not making the cut, and that is something I regret.
This continued into college – I was never one of those girls who rolled out of bed and attended lecture in sweats. I would be late for class before I would ever show up without a full face of makeup and a put together outfit. I envied my friends who were finding themselves and shedding the insecurities of high school because mine were still firmly rooted in my brain. I didn’t know what I really liked or what I wanted because I was so focused on appearing like I had it all together. There were few people who knew the real me and I burned many bridges because of my inability to open up and just be.
I gained more than the freshman fifteen my first year and felt like a disgusting failure, and then felt a sick satisfaction my sophomore year when I dropped to under 100 pounds and no longer fit in any of my clothes. I had developed a full blown eating disorder which wouldn’t be diagnosed until a few years after college. I NEEDED to be perfect. I NEEDED to be a size 0 and I didn’t care what it took. I wasn’t even concerned after passing out in the hallway during a summer quarter literature class. I had been trying to get to the bathroom and thank God I had the wherewithal to sit down on a hallway bench before I passed out and awoke drenched in cold sweat with a random girl shaking my shoulder. You would think that might be a wake up call for me, but I am extremely stubborn and hard headed. I needed to be skinny and hear all the compliments more than I wanted to be healthy or admit I had a problem.
As embarrassing as it is to admit, I still struggle every day with thoughts of weight, food and body image. It’s something I will most likely struggle with for most of my life. But on the flip side, I am beginning to care so much less about what people think of that fact. I kept it a secret for many years and was ashamed for what I perceived as being ‘weak’ and out of control. I can now speak about it without shame, because I know I fight daily to overcome those thoughts and I know it’s not easy. I’ve gotten over worrying about what people think of me, what I wear or how put together I am – because the truth is nobody cares about that. People care if you are kind, thoughtful, and trustworthy – not what size jeans you can squeeze into.
But as I said, I’m slowly leaving those insecurities behind. Maybe this is what being in your 30’s is all about. Coming into your own and not giving an ounce of care about what people think. That and the two day hangover that happens now when I have too much wine…what’s that all about?
I started a few small businesses in the past year and really seemed to ‘find’ myself. Both required posting A LOT of selfies on social media. At first it gave me a stomach ache when I didn’t get enough ‘likes’ on a photo, but now it doesn’t phase me. I rock bright red lipstick when I feel like it (something I would have never had the guts to do before) and even dyed my hair pink a few times, because I wanted to. I wear what I like and what makes me feel pretty. The funny thing is, the more I let go and stop caring, the more confident I’ve become. It’s freeing to let go of those old hang ups and give yourself permission to just be.
This is what I wish for everyone. That we could all let go of the hang ups holding us back from enjoying and experiencing our lives. So…in my quest for bliss, I’ve found that learning to love myself despite my flaws and despite my anxiety must be the very first step.