Don’t let anyone tell you who the hell you are. That is step one, but perhaps the most difficult of the steps. Because, we hardly ever understand the full spectrum of bullshit we’ve been fed since before we were able to reject that which did not adhere to our own moral or ethical code. We were convinced from an early age that our primary goal in life was to be served up on a platter deliciously for the consumption of those people who wish to see us as bodies, instead of human beings who are multifaceted, dynamic, and complicated. Since before we could know any better, we’ve been consumed. Drank in. Lusted after. The way we look has been and continues to be politicized, debated, concerned about, and picked apart, Photoshopped.
There’s a way to be, it’s clear. And, we will spend our lives unlearning this conditioning. We will spend our lives trying to reclaim who we are. We will spend our lives trying to sift through the mountainous pile of lies to find the shreds of truth, the shreds of our own identity, completely absent of the curated identities we’ve been told to mold ourselves into.
What we will uncover is that there truly is no proper way to be a woman, only ideas, only types, only these small-minded limitations which do not serve us. There is no singular body type or skin color which is the only body type or skin color worthy of love or lust or acceptance or self-love or self-lust or self-acceptance. We will learn that much of what we absorb into our own identities is not truth. It is the product of marketing and greed machines, which profit off women self-loathing enough to change everything about themselves. This greed machine exists to bring us further and further from who they determine we should be, so that we spend, spend, spend in order to close that gap. They dangle the carrot of acceptance above our heads, encouraging us to nip, tuck, tone, paint, adorn, wax, in an effort to get that reward.
What’s the reward, though? Acceptance as a motivation? Our reward is a husband? What do we get? What the fuck is the point to all the nipping, tucking, toning, painting, adorning, waxing? Maybe we’ll realize one day there is no point. There is no glory in reaching the carrot. There is no reward worth fueling our efforts with self-hatred, self-loathing, depression, disordered mindsets. There is no reward which should be bought with the currency of shame. None.
There are perhaps many ways to find and experience joy, but there is really only one road to peace. We cannot find happiness while living stringently within the expectations of others. Our peace is on the other side of our self-acceptance. And, there is no self-acceptance without acknowledging where we are not acknowledging our true selves. We cannot accept ourselves and grab hold of the lives that are meant for us when we are too busy chasing after a life built on what other people expect from us. We will never feel empowered if our lives are dictated by automatically-accepted thoughts and beliefs about who we are. So much of our suffering lies in this idea that we are not measuring up only to realize that there is nothing to measure up to. The dangling carrot above us is not our own.
We free ourselves when we voluntarily decide to start challenging our own minds. Self-awareness becomes the weapon against our own misery. We become fanatically obsessed with the source of our own thoughts. Not just about our bodies, but our lives, our paths, our beliefs about what it means to be a woman/person/human in this world. We challenge the thoughts which repeat in our minds without our consent. Something is only a truth about us when we decide for it to be. We are empowered, creative humans. We don’t have to believe anything we don’t want to believe. We simply decide not to curate a reality and, poof, it’s gone. That’s how we work. We are not victims. We are not on autopilot. We get to decide. We have choice.
By following the road which is dictated for us without giving any thought to the road we desire to be on, we are automatically and by default surrendering our own lives. At the end of this road, there is only a smaller box than the one we are in. There is no glory in the preordained path. There is nothing to find which has not already been found. There is nothing impactful about existing within the constraints of other people’s expectations. There is nothing except suffering.
The freedom lies in choice. Of beginning a new story for ourselves instead of continuing to turn the page of someone else’s story. This is empowerment. This is when we begin to change. This is when we stop from destructing our lives and ourselves and begin to build. To build and to build.