I want to get to that definite point in my life where I no longer use comparisons that focus on physical traits to reference a point. Everyone compares and judges you on what seems like trite insignificances. I may not have the greatest self esteem, but every day I try to see the good in myself, significant things that I accomplish and overcome that make me whole, as opposed to the way I choose to dress or do my makeup.
It seems like just a decade ago that I was an insecure teenager.
I suppose it never truly stops. This feeling is worse when a wave of confidence empowers me to ask a cutie at the gym if he is single and I get stared at like a weirdo. My entire body deflates as I get nothing in return—no go ahead to keep speaking, and definitely no cute smile to indicate they are game.
It is not because I am ugly. It is most definitely my inadequacy in letting myself feel vulnerable.
Vulnerability is the act of being exposed emotionally with the fear of being ridiculed for how you choose to express feelings or thoughts. Deep in my heart, I know we must all be in positions of vulnerability to grow. It helps establish a healthy self-esteem and prepares you for the risk of ridicule. It’s natural to feel the fear of the unknown, but it’s even better exponentially. Besides, wearing armor to hide your self-awareness will eventually crack. It’s hard keeping up with a false exterior, because eventually it’ll break and what you really feel will run free.
I tried my hardest to flee from anything and everything that made me feel uneasy. In turn, I shut my emotions off and regressed my ability to learn from difficult situations by about 10 years, I am assuming.
Despite all this, the moments that I clearly took chances really gave me an opportunity to turn any “could’ve” into reality. I know many people can’t read emotions or have the ability to decipher feelings, mainly because relying on thoughts alone leads nowhere, but letting vulnerability in is okay. I recall during an outing my college put on to acquaint ourselves with future roommates, we were given the opportunity to explore a camp for a day. This camp allowed us to find solutions to everyday wilderness problems. It took a lot of communication and bonding from our groups of 10. It was fun!
There were many moments of uncertainty as each of us climbed a tall tree and walked across a tightrope. At the base of the rope, there was a landing for you to get hooked on to a zipline. For many, it was difficult walking upwards—the higher we went up the louder it seemed our hearts pounded. Some of us were perspiring. Several cried reaching the top, but they were very afraid of crossing to the platform. I knew despite how afraid I was, I was more afraid of disappointing myself. My legs shook, my palms and back sweated. If I don’t zipline today, I may not know when my next opportunity will be. I’ve never done something like this before! I thought. I was so afraid of letting opportunities go, so I quickly walked the tightrope, never daring to look past my peripheral vision downwards, and made it across. The camp duo buckled and safety strapped me in and counted to 5, and off I glided down. It was mere 45 seconds at most, but the air breezed through my hair and the exhilaration of going downwards at top speed was fascinating. I was filled with immediate joy. Dare I say it? I was jubilant!
I chose courage over comfort. Despite the initial doubts of possibly having my new roommates see me in the shape of mashed potatoes at the bottom of the zipline, I was close to going again. I instantaneously felt stronger. I felt braver and ready to tread on to another adventure. I understood that my future roommates could not assume the negative thoughts that were running through my head. They probably thought the same, as they hyperventilated for seconds before walking across the tightrope.
It’s so high, what if my stomach shows when I am falling down the line? What if, what if, what if, but none of these things happened. Physical beauty can eat dirt. Some of the freshmen were pudgy, some were obese, and some were thin, but almost all of them had significant doubts crossing that rope. Some of the camp leaders were male, but they too were encouraging—they never doubted us. Through and through, we all shouted encouraging words. You’re halfway there! You are 12 steps away. You can do it! You made it!
Brene Brown said it best: “Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”. Critics always exist, but they don’t live with my life choices, I do. In my world, I matter, and I’ll be damned if I choose anyone else’s perceptions over my own. As it should be!