For my very first article here on SFTL, I wanted to write about something important. Something I not only believe in, but also understand – truly, wholeheartedly relate to. And to discover this meaning, I had to tap into what it was about SFTL that made me so desperately want to join the team.
The fight for love – self love – #ConnectToConfidence.
As a girl who has grown up her entire life loving sports of all kinds – running, swimming, dancing, gymnastics, softball, and tennis – exercise and health have always been synonymous with enjoyment and habit. Yet, from the age of around 14 or 15, I became hyper-aware of my body. I began to critique what it could and could not do, demand that it perform better, question the way I looked and, most devastatingly, adopt the habit of comparing myself to everyone.
I placed my body next to the images of one supermodel after another, genuinely wondering why my awkward 15-year-old body wasn’t shaped and sculpted as perfectly as her 25-year old, multi-million-dollar physique.
Every little thing became engorged and simultaneously inadequate – my legs were too wide, my torso was too small, my nose too flat, my hair too thick, my eyebrows too rogue, my skin too lumpy, and my stomach too loose. The list never ended.
Picking out my flaws suddenly wasn’t enough. I began creating them. And with a habit of comparison comes the side effect of submission.
Girls who behaved badly at school, or were rude to me at parties, or incessantly gossiped about others, were excused within my mind for the simple fact that I thought they were pretty. It didn’t matter how awful they were – external, personally-perceived beauty was all that mattered to me.
For years, this unwanted obsession plagued my thoughts, dreams, goals and my lifestyle. I lived my life as though I was constantly slipping; wanting to be perfect, realizing that perfection was unattainable, yet trying again anyway.
Even still, I slip.
I’m not here to tell you to simply love yourself because I know it’s not that simple. I’m not here to preach the importance of physical diversity and the expansion of body image publications. You already know the need for this, and you already want to love yourself – if you didn’t, you wouldn’t be reading this article.
What I want to say to you – and what I hope will reach you – is that your youth is limited, and, right now, you’re wasting your time.
Already, as I turn 20, I look back on the past six years of my adolescence and am endlessly frustrated by the fear that tainted how I chose to live. The fact that I wouldn’t eat birthday cake on special occasions for a fear of gaining weight. The fact that I wouldn’t sleep because I cared so much about always doing and being absolutely perfect with everything. The fact that I talked to some girls, and not to others, based off my own shallow, external judgments.
I may only be 20, but 20 is still too late to realize that your youth is wasting.
The reality is that there is time in this life — don’t get caught up in the belief that nobody has time for anything because we do. We have time to travel, to work, and to explore. We have time to fall in love and out of love, and possibly even back in love once more. We have time to make mistakes and learn from them. We have time to ask those big questions, and we have time to find the answers, too. But what we do not have time for, is wasting time. This, we cannot afford.
It’s not that you can’t start loving yourself – it’s that you don’t realize how desperately you need to. So please, not for my sake, but for yours, reprogram your thoughts. Break those habits that tear you down, and fill yourself with positivity and confidence, optimism and motivation. The more we embrace these emotions, the more these emotions will color our lives.
Paint, create, inspire, love.