Monday, March 3, 2014

Step 1: Admit the Problem

I had an experience this past weekend that really has me thinking. On Saturday I went window shopping with Nate (the guy I am dating). While looking at clothes I was looking at some black tops, He suggested that I look at clothes with color. I've heard this plenty of times from my mom and my sisters, so it wasn't new to me. We looked around some other stores and the more time we spent looking at clothes the more sensitive I was getting. He'd suggest going into a store that we'd be walking past -ones I've never been in before. I'd immediately say things like: "Everything is so bright in that store" or "They wouldn't have sizes that fit me". I ended up admitting that I have a hard time wearing color and pretty things because I "don't feel like a girl".

To explain what I meant by that: I've had a lot of bad dating experiences. Most of the guys I've dated have been rude, controlling, manipulative,and power-hungry (over me). And honestly, a lot of the guys who were like that had pornography problems. Some went so far as to tell me things like this: "You should grow your hair out because short hair is ugly and makes you look like a man. Women need long hair", "You should die your hair blonde and grow it out because that's what's sexy", "you should start losing weight because you're getting a bit big", " You should get a boob job because I like big boobs", and  on and on. Now it would be great if I could say that I dumped them immediately for stuff like that but I didn't. I've always had self-esteem issues. It's been bad for as long as I can remember. In  high school I was in the best shape of my life because of water polo and swim team. At that time I still thought I was FAT. Really? I look back now and I'd like nothing more than to go back to that body. So, not only did I feel like these men were calling me a man because of my short hair, but I don't dress very feminine and I act tough to emotionally protect myself, hence why I don't feel very much like a girl.

Because of my experiences from dating and lack of self-esteem, my brain has been trained to think that only certain type of women are attractive. Skinny, thin, long haired women (mostly blondes). Which is ridiculous because I only apply that to me. So in reality, all women are attractive and desirable except me, because in the end every woman, besides me, has something that guys want.

I know, I know... Then why is Nate interested in me? I, honestly, don't know, but there's obviously a reason. The Belief System in my head is messed up. I constantly compare myself to other women.

I have in the past couple years been steadily, but quickly, gaining weight. And while there is a big movement in the U.S. to accept "real beauty" and women with curves, I don't feel like I can even be a part of that movement. These women are confident and accept their curves. I am not. I am not just curvy...I am getting BIG. If I keep gaining weight, (which if I don't watch myself, I will), I won't have curves anymore. I will just exist. (Now, I do want to explain that I don't judge those who are big or extremely curvy...however you want to  put it. My belief system only applies to me.)

So, back to my experience. I have a jacket that I like to wear. It is a bit baggy and thick. It has a huge hood with fur on the end. Nate told me that it reminds him of Allison in the movie The Breakfast Club. I would joke back saying I am her. Okay, well...the more I thought about it the more I realized I am pretty similar to her. I tend to be quiet with new people at first, opening up the more I am around them. I'm weird, wear dark clothes, sit in the back, and wear black makeup...Even she ends up having a make over in the movie. At the end of the movie the popular Claire gives her new make up (light and natural beauty enhancing) and she's all of a sudden wearing light colors. Then the jock is all of a sudden taken aback by her beauty.

I hide. I am hiding behind my weight gain. I am hiding behind all the black. I am hiding. I think a part of me has let myself get to this point because I don't want guys like my exes to find me attractive. I think another part of me is scared of people seeing the "real" me because I have this misconception that the "real" me isn't very attractive or a good person. Another part of me feels like I if I did start dressing more feminine-like and with bright colors I'd be judged..."you shouldn't be dressing like that you've gotten big and you're not attractive enough to be wearing clothes like that". I'm afraid people will think I'm trying too hard. I am afraid of feeling vulnerable and being noticed. I told Nate I don't like being noticed and he told me he wants people to notice who he is with. I know that he didn't say that to mean that the way I dress is ugly (which actually could be true haha) or that I am ugly or unattractive. He thinks I am beautiful. He tells me he's lucky to have me and I don't blame him for wanting to show that off. But, I make it difficult.

By the end of our shopping trip I was in a really bad mood. I was even more self-conscious and down on myself. Even though the emotions I was feeling were legitimate, I still think it was ridiculous.

On Sunday I went to church with Nate's family. During sunday school the teacher listed thoughts that a lot of people have to rationalize their behavior or for whatever reason. Anyways, one really stuck out to me. It basically described measuring beauty by the standard of the world. God doesn't judge my beauty by what I look like. He wants me to be healthy, yes. But I don't need to be really thin or over the top fit to be beautiful to Him.

I want to accept who I am. There are so many things about myself that I've supposedly accepted, but am still embarrassed about when it comes to telling people. I want to accept where I'm at in life and who I am right now. I won't be satisfied with my life if I don't. Some people say that if you want to change you have to first accept who you are.

So I am going to start today. I know this kind of thing doesn't happen over night. Or even a couple weeks, but I need to do this. Not just  for my sake, but everyone else's, too. It is hard to love someone who doesn't love themselves.

So tell me your tricks. What motivates you the most to make changes in your life? What have you done to love yourself? to be confident?

Friday, February 7, 2014

Becoming the Woman You Want to Be

The past few years of my life have always had me thinking about the kind of woman I want to be. The downside of that is ending up in the thought process of "why aren't I that person yet?" or "I could have been doing this instead of that and been that person by now". Well, we all know that can be extremely destructive.

I came across this talk by Gordon B. Hinckley titled "How Can I Become the Woman of Whom I Dream?" Perfect, right? Now I don't want to get all religiousy and preachy. That's not my purpose here. I am religious, but this talk has inspirational words that, I believe, can benefit every woman (and honestly, men too).

One of the first things that caught my eye while reading this was his push for finding a purpose:

"Find purpose in your life. Choose the things you would like to do,
and educate yourselves to be effective in their pursuit. For most it
is very difficult to settle on a vocation. You are hopeful that you will marry
 and that all will be taken care of. In this day and time, a girl needs an education."

I am so grateful that he called out those hoping that they will just get married and not have to worry about it. While marriage and having a family is one of the greatest callings for women on earth, I do not think it is their only calling. Many women throughout the ages have made impacts on society. Some of those women even had or have families and a husband. If your only calling is to be a wife and mother, would not getting an education only benefit you and your children?

Growing up, my father and mother both attended school. This sets a great example not only about the importance of getting an education, but taking the time to find purpose in your life and taking the time to fulfill that purpose.

Attending school isn't the only way to be educated, though. Read, experience, talk with others. So many options for continual learning.

"For you, my dear friends, the sky is the limit. You can be excellent in every way.
You can be first class. There is no need for you to be a scrub.
Respect yourself. Do not feel sorry for yourself.
Do not dwell on unkind things others may say about you.
Particularly, pay no attention to what some boy might say to demean you.
He is no better than you. In fact, he has already belittled himself by his actions.
Polish and refine whatever talents the Lord has given you.
Go forward in life with a twinkle in your eye and a smile on your face, but with
 great and strong purpose in your heart. Love life and look for its opportunities."

Women are so hard on themselves. It makes me sad. I'm hard on myself, too. Media is all about demeaning women (and men,too, but that's a whole other topic). "You aren't thin enough". "You aren't pretty enough". "You don't matter unless a boy likes you". When did we become so dependent on outside opinion, especially on what a guy thinks? The saddest part is that we allow it. People can say very rude things. But we, also, let it hurt us. We choose to take offense. We let that other person have control over our lives. Why? Low self-esteem is one. I've definitely struggled with that. We need to realize that those who bring others down are just as or more insecure than us. There is a difference between constructive, honest criticism, and being hurtful. Love yourself. Accept your flaws and the mistakes you've made and will make. Realize that you aren't supposed to be like the girl sitting next you, or the girl on the television. You have the potential and the ability to become the woman you want to be, the real and best version of yourself. 

What are interests of yours that you would love to learn more about? What would you do if you weren't afraid?