When I was in my first two or three years of high school, I used to come home from school, crying, hating my pizza pimple face and orange mop hair. My dad, not used to dealing with teenage girl drama, was at a loss as to how to comfort me.
He told me while I may not be beautiful, it really didn’t matter. The difference between me and the popular girls, wasn’t the designer shoes or backpacks. It wasn’t the fact they had grown up with the same friends for the past 13 years, or that they had better skin and nicer hair.
The difference was confidence.
They were confident in themselves and that was really what I was jealous of.
While I spent all this time trying to be a replica of these popular girls, forcing my dad to spend the last few dollars he had on the coolest school shoes and Dolly magazine to fit in, I was failing to create happiness. In fact, I have very few memories of my first years in high school because I spent most of my time trying to be “good enough”, trying to be cooler, trying to fit in instead of focussing on what I did have, who I had in my life and making some incredible memories there and then.
In the end of Grade 10 or so I found my confidence and all of a sudden my world changed. I loved every moment of my last two years of school and spent little time comparing myself to others, received the second highest score in the school and left with some amazing memories and great friends. In fact, one of the popular girls who I previously envied, asked me to write a statement for her School Captain nomination, to support her. I left feeling on top of the world and as confident as ever.
I wish. See while 13 year old me was busy comparing herself to those around her, those who seemed happier and seemed to have it together, she failed to realise it was her comparisons and assumptions alone that were making her life hell.
You would think that once you learn a big life lesson, such as happiness comes from confidence in oneself, that it automatically sticks for the rest of your life. But unfortunately it doesn’t – or atleast not easily or automatically.
When we become adults, it’s a whole new terrain – and this changes depending on where you live, who you hang out with and who you look up to.
18 year old me wanted to be the illusive, misunderstood and complex emo girl. I died my hair black, got a fringe, wore blue contacts and hung out at underground screamo bars, pretending to like the scene. I never felt like I fit in, but my housemates were into it and for fear of being left out – I tried my best to play the part. I even created a fake ID, got busted, lied to my dad about it when I was almost summoned to court – and learnt the hard way that sometimes fitting in at whatever cost, is not worth it. I soon moved out of the house and made different friends.
Fast forward to 21 year old me. I had to be the party girl with a high paying job with an endless supply of fun, alcohol and men. I worked full time while most of my friends were still at uni, I studied law part time and spent any free time I had partying, chauffering friends around or falling in and out of love with boys and men who treated me poorly, trying to figure out why no one loved me.
I am 26 years old (going on 27 – ancient I know) and now I feel so in need of having my “shit sorted”. I need to have a stable career, a family, fiancée or husband, the best degree and endless energy to do yoga at 6am and drink champagne by 6pm.
Guess what? It’s fucking exhausting. The reality is, no one is putting the pressure on ourselves to be better than we are, more so than ourselves.
The idea of who we are meant to be by a certain age, or what we are meant to have, what car we should drive, what size we should be, how many social media followers we should have, what length our hair should be, our marital or womb status… These are not things that justify our worth. They do not make us more or less worthy of self love or self appreciation.
While these ideals can assist us in driving us towards perhaps who we would like to be or what we would like to achieve, it doesn’t matter that we are not there yet or not the perfect person. So much energy is spent on comparing ourselves or degrading ourselves, that we forget to celebrate the achievements and live in the here and now. To appreciate what we have exactly as it is.
I just read Jesinta Campbells new book, and something that stood out to me is the mind frame for exercise. The majority of people focus on the ‘end result’. They focus on the weight loss, that they fail to focus on how exercising makes them feel – the endorphins released and the freedom and happiness it brings. This is why so many people fail to keep the weight off because they think once they reach the destination, that’s it – rather than focussing on the journey and acknowledging what they feel or experience in the time being.
So instead of constantly feeling as though I need to be better – get better grades, get engaged, get a house, get a 6 digit salary, visit Paris and The Maldives while becoming a size 6 and driving a Mercedes…. I am going to say fuck it.
I need to take a step back, enjoy the journey and embrace the here and now.
I am confident in myself.
I am good enough for me right now.
My worth is not defined by what I have… It is defined by my heart, my intentions, my moral and my soul.
Starting today, it is time I learnt to get my confidence back.
To smile again and to enjoy life just as it is; all expectations aside.
I am me. And that is all I need to be right now.
I am me. And she is alright.