(This article was first published on HerCampus, an online magazine for young women in college, in April of 2017. This post has since been edited and modified by author for publication on this blog.)
I am embracing…
… that the makeup on my right eye always looks better than that on my left eye because of my slightly droopy eyelid and the fact that I can never do my makeup evenly. Because my face isn’t perfectly symmetrical, and my eyebrows are sisters, not twins. Because if you’re looking that closely, you should have noticed my smile first, and if you didn’t, then frankly I’m not interested.
… the stretchmarks that I call tiger stripes, because I have a thing for big wild cats. The marks are not going anywhere any time soon, because I wouldn't spend the money to get them lasered or tattooed away. And if I did have the money, these white lightening-shaped scars are still witnesses of the time I grew into womanhood. They’re hugging my hips and my ass and my thighs, and I know they never meant to hurt me, only to help me, fit into a new kind of body.
… my tiny feet. Boy, have I been mocked with having tiny feet. But that’s okay. I secretly think my feet are pretty cute with their high arches and small toes. And they take me places, amazing places. Like all over Savannah on St. Patrick’s Day or from Soho to Central Park in New York City, through the wilderness of the Australian bush or along the wide avenues of Paris. See they might be tiny, but they can move, fast and slow, as far as I want them to.
… my laziness that I have otherwise condemned for so long. The feeling of wanting to do nothing but lay in bed with a Netflix series, has seemed so shameful and unproductive. But there’s an art to taking care of yourself, not just in body, but in mind as well. Letting my mind take a deep breath between the 100 mph week days and the social interactions on the weekends, sometimes an empathic experience that has no consequence on my own life loosens the tight muscles.
… the little wrinkles that are starting to form in the corners of my eyes and the ones in my forehead too. No Botox for me. Because they’re little reminders of the smiles I’ve smiled, the laughs I’ve laughed, and the worries I’ve overcome. They’re a map of my life, slowly shaping themselves in my skin with every smile, laugh, and worry.
… my selfishness. I’ve come to allow myself to say no, to stand up and leave if I’m not having fun. Realizing that if I’m not putting myself first, it’s rare that others will too. I stopped feeling bad for cancelling hangouts or saying no to helping others, if I need some me-time to do chores or take long bath with a book. Put myself first, being selfish, is a mode of self-preservation and self-care.
… the fact that I won’t be a size 0, ever. For the longest time, I told myself and everyone else that I couldn’t be a size 0, but the truth is, I simply won’t dedicate the time to become size 0. It’s not a priority, even if it’s hard to deal with, even if I struggle with my body, I won’t make it a priority to where it matters more than anything else. And then I remind myself that that’s okay too, a perfectly valid choice that doesn’t need justification.
… the longing I still carry for the guy who has moved on. How I still crave his eyes smiling at me, his fingers tracing my spine, his jokes coaxing laughter from my stomach. I take a deep breath and smile that smile that doesn’t reach my eyes and I tell myself to be happy for him, even if I don’t really mean it. Because life is bigger than me.
… the loneliness that sometimes comes with deciding to stay in alone on a Friday night. It’s the prick when looking at social media and seeing the live stream of what I’m missing out on. It’s the feeling of only-kinda-laughing as they tell me stories the next day. But it’s also a breath away from social anxiety and making sure my mind gets to relax as much as my body. It’s getting to know myself and becoming comfortable in my own company.
… myself, giving myself a hug. You should too.
… that there are things I still struggle to embrace. Like my thighs and the pouch on my stomach, my sometimes lack of social skills, or my tendency to get too enthusiastic too fast, how easily I slip into feelings. These struggles might be a marathon-kind-of-thing, a twelve-round boxing match and not a 10-second-knock-out. But the first step is recognizing there’s a problem, right? Then I’ll take it from there.
… the fact that even as I say that I embrace all these things, they’ll still bother me from time to time, because a mindful decision doesn’t change feelings or thought patterns overnight. Embracing doesn’t mean unbothered. It means starting to process of taking the things I have considered short comings for so long, and starting to let go of the negativity they hold.
This piece sprung from the hashtag #IHaveEmbraced that I saw on Instagram.