Self confidence: what I'm trying to stop telling myself and what you should, too

11:01 AM

I guess for this week I've completely failed my blogging resolution to blog two to three times a week, however I do have to admit that this week was tough. I had to study and work constantly, and I've been feeling very much exhausted on the emotional and self-esteem side.
For this week's post, then, I decided to get a little personal, and talk about self confidence and what has been helping me through my acceptance of myself (which is a still ongoing process).

Tibidabo, Barcelona, Spain. Picture taken by me.

When I talk about self-confidence, I usually refer to body confidence, because that's what I've always struggled with; I'm lucky I've never felt insecure about my personality or my feeling, even though I'm aware so many feel insecure about the way they are, whether they think they're too sensitive, or they laugh too loud. Unfortunately these are thoughts we carry with us even after the teenage years, as I've done.

I've been a ballerina for fourteen years, the longest I've ever committed to anything, probably just because of the power that music and dancing have on me: it's almost like a transcendental experience, as if I was taken to another world.
When I was eight I was taller than my dance mates, I had longer hair and I was also slightly chubbier. I never noticed that about me, because I still didn't have the obsession of comparing myself to others. However one day that same year my ballet teacher called me out in front of everybody and, while touching my belly, told me that it "needed to be fixed" and that it was crucial that "I lost weight immediately".
It's true when they tell you that words can truly change somebody because from that day on, my view on the whole world simply changed. I started comparing myself to girls my age and older, I even compared myself to my relatives, because I just felt like I wasn't right. I told my mom I wanted to lose weight, and we eliminated from my diet all those little pleasures that kids should enjoy once in a while. I didn't eat cake, or chocolate, or carbs for almost a year. Even though I had lost weight (and I kept losing it) and everybody was complimenting my mom on it, it was as if my eyes couldn't see anything else but the body I had when my teacher told me that I was chubby.
Fast forward six years or so, my struggle with weight kept on going. And by that I don't mean I had an eating disorder - I never skipped meals or threw up on purpose - however I was so obsessed by what I was putting in my body and by my body image, that I would turn down many amazing opportunities to socialize because there was pizza, or because I had to work out that day.
I never thought it was an issue, especially when I transitioned into high school and guys really liked me because of how skinny I was. From my first to my third year of high school I would work out almost two hours a day for five days a week, rarely eat carbs, my only pleasure was a cup of milk in the morning (which I've always felt really guilty about). At that time, I loved my body, even though it required me so much work to keep it how I wanted it. I was 5' 8'' (178 cm) in height and I weighted 116 lbs (53 kg).
Then it was time for my year abroad in the USA and I gained 40 lbs. Winter was so cold in South Dakota and working out outside as I did in Italy was impossibile. Plus, the stereotypical american girl isn't as skinny as Italian girls, so I didn't have that (insane) motivation to work out and look better. I hated my body, and as soon as I came back to Italy, I did anything I could to lose weight.

Fast forward a year, and I'm stuck at 141 lbs. And if you'd asked me about my weight six months ago, I would've started crying because all I could see in the mirror was a human being that was unbelievably ugly. In my diary, I would describe myself as repulsive, horrid even.
Then, I'm not exactly sure when, something changed. I was just so tired of living my life constantly fighting against myself. So I wrote down the things that I told and did to myself everyday that were only bringing me down:

1. Comparison: look at that girl, how much skinnier she is than you. If you looked just like her, you would be happier.
2. Resolutions: you have to eat well today, otherwise you'll hate yourself.
3. Clothes: I look fat with these jeans.
4. People: he's probably watching me because I'm horrid.
5. Fitness: just run a little bit today so you'll feel okay with yourself.
6. Worth: you're worth only your weight and your looks.

As you can probably notice, I truly wasn't in a good place. I don't expect every single one of you to have told herself all of these things daily but, being this the society we live in, it's almost impossible you've never thought any of these really horrible things that kept going through my mind.

What I've realized is:
1. That girl: it doesn't matter if she's a picture on Instagram or Pinterest or somebody crossing the street in front of you. You are two completely different people, with different interests and journeys, and she probably wouldn't like you estimating her worth on how slim her thighs are. Isn't it nicer to work on yourself following what you can do, trying to push your limits and following your passions?
(P.S: inspiration is different from negatively comparing yourself to every girl you see in the streets. When you go on Pinterest or Instagram for inspiration, and looking at those girls makes you want to improve your body image, that's a positive way of comparison.)

2. You don't have to be perfect. You're human, not a robot, and your body shouldn't be dictating your social life or your enjoyment of life. Go out with your workmates and eat that pizza, go over to grandma's and eat a piece of that amazing carrot cake, without feeling guilty for the next month and a half.

3. Again, there is no perfection when we talk about clothes. There isn't a body that is amazingly sexy with a pair of jeans and a body that isn't. It's just about whether you can pull something off or not, and by thinking you can't, you're already starting from the most disadvantaged position. Understand what you feel comfortable in, style wise and adherence wise. Don't worry about whether the stereotypical girl that wears that piece of clothing doesn't really look like you. You're gorgeous, work that outfit.

4. If he's not literally gagging at you, you can't read his mind. You don't know what he's thinking. You don't know what he has going on in his mind. Stop assuming things and care less about what other people think and more about improving what you think of yourself.

5. Please, stop tiring yourself by overexercising. It's not healthy, and you don't have to work out. It shouldn't be a job, it should be and enjoyment. And when you're done, you should feel healthier, more relaxed, not a better person because you've burned calories.

6. Your body is your vehicle, as somebody whose name I don't remember said. It's just a box full of your personality, which is so much more important than your body. Please, don't do as I did. Don't think you'll never find love or a husband because of your body. Facts will show you otherwise and you'll find yourself regretting wasting those precious years of your life worrying constantly for something that, honestly, means so little.

Now, it's not easy, for sure. This week was very challenging: I went buying clothes for New Year's Eve and it was one of the hardest things I've ever done; I had to go for the bigger size, and nothing looked good, etc, etc. Then I met this group of girls that used to go to middle school with me and they were so fit and skinny, and for a second I envied them all so much.
However, this time, instead of going home and crying, I called a friend, we talked about it; I took out my diary of when I was a really sad teenager and read those six points that I wrote above.

What I tell myself and you in this festive seasons is that we - especially us girls, with so much pressure on how we look - should be better and more clement with ourselves. Read a book, go for a walk in the woods, drink hot chocolate with your significant other. And now that it's Christmas and then it'll be New Year's Eve and we'll all eat so much, please eat all of it. You'll have all the time to eat salad next year (with some cookies and pasta in the middle, because balance is the key). Stop comparing yourself to others and telling yourself you are what your body looks like. I am so much more than that, and you are too.

Thank you if you've read this whole, long post. I hope you liked it.

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  1. This was worth a read and really got me thinking deep however no offence but id punch that teacher in the face if i was there, could of at least done it privately lol. Thanks for sharing, I wish you and your family a very peaceful and joyful Christmas! Dominica from xXx


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