Where do I belong?
Lately, I have been reading a lot of self-acceptance blogs. Not that it is a surprise, but as a female in this society I have some body image issues. Let me start by saying, I am not writing this for compliments. Anyone who suffers from this type of pain knows that they don't change the dialogue in your head. I am writing this so that others can find some relief.
Some of these articles and blogs have some really great information. But most of the time they leave me feeling a little lost. I'm not heavy enough to be a part of the "fat" community, and I don't spend enough time in the gym and portioning my meals to be in the "fit" community. I never had an eating disorder, and I'm not clinically depressed. I'm just a woman who has a hard time seeing her body as beautiful. Whose doubts about her physical appearance, roll into doubting her self-worth. So where do I belong? Who do I get encouragement from? It turns out the answer was right in front of me all along.
I recently had the opportunity to have a truly meaningful conversation with an acquaintance of mine. I have known this person for quite a while, but for no particular reason, have never developed a close friendship. I won't lie, I always kind of idolized her. She is a mom, has a great job, fun outgoing personality, beautiful house, happy marriage and is a gorgeous woman. And like most self-conscious females in this world, it was her physical beauty that I found the most intimidating.
In a very large group, the conversation was light a fun as we had a few drinks, and soaked in the sun. But as the day went on, the group divided into smaller sections and more intimate conversations, as they always do. By some stretch of fate, myself and this acquaintance of mine were left alone to wander conversationally. I'm not sure where or why the topics turned from light to mind altering, but we began to talk about body image. And not "OMG I'm I hate my thighs" body image, but depths of your soul, self-doubting, body dysmorphia, eating disorder body image issues.
We talked about how we see ourselves, as compared to what others tell us. The pain of being too skinny and knowing your sick, but everyone around you encouraging your sickness, telling you your look great. The daily struggle of getting dressed. The constant internal fight between your happiness and physical appearance. And this is the one that confused us the most, if our husbands, who we both truly love and they are the most important people in the world to us, love how we look, why is that not enough?
I left that conversation feeling empowered. We didn't fix any of our problems, but knowing I wasn't alone in that struggle, made it seem less heavy. It turns out we're more alike than either of us ever realized. I don't know why we both decided it was okay to lay our vulnerability out that day. Maybe without all the smoke and mirrors of the large group, we recognized the similarity in our fragile exterior. Whatever it was, I am so thankful that we did.
It made me realize that where I belong is right where I am. I don't need to look to the internet for help. I need to open my mouth to the people around me. A one on one conversation is more healing than any amount of inspirational quotes and Instagram photos. It's scary to let down your guard, but until you do you will always feel lost. I did, and now I know I am not that different, and more importantly I am not alone. Needless to say, even if I never spoke to my new friend again, I will still carry her in my heart for the rest of my life. And that is all the support I need.