I was eleven the first time I really paid attention to how my body looked. My mother was running late picking me up from ballet and so I stood there with my arms outstretched, alone, in the dance room, evaluating every inch of my body; my stringy brown hair, freckles covering my cheeks and nose, wire framed blue glasses, a flat chest, growing love handles, and my overly arched feet.
I had, of course, looked in the mirror every day when brushing my teeth or applying black eyeliner to my lower waterline but I was never critical of my body until that moment. I was a petite girl who had issues with her body that no one else seemed to notice.
When my mom finally pulled into the parking lot, I raced out with a giant hoodie covering my body and asked her, “Has my head always been this big?”
Today, I looked in the mirror as I brushed my teeth and as I winged my eyeliner and I took ten seconds, after completely getting ready, to stare down my reflection and say to myself, “You look great- go do your thing.”
I have dyed my hair, have no where near as many freckles covering my face, I have glasses that are super cute, annoyingly large breasts, growing love handles, and my overly arched feet. I am no longer petite, I haven’t considered myself “thin” since I gained upwards of 30 lbs on my already curvy frame.
I am now the heaviest I have ever been and, to even my surprise, I am also the happiest I’ve ever been.
I know, I know- that may sound crazy to some of you especially because I just went on and on about how much 11 year old me criticized myself but as I type this, I am not stressing about my size or my “flaws”, I am thinking of what exciting things I may do tomorrow. So, though happiness is a universally sought out feeling, it’s different for everyone and these are the things that influenced my happiness and maybe they’ll do the same for you:
Surround yourself with good friends. Now, when I say good I don’t just mean friends who you are close with, I mean that you need to surround yourself with friends who are good to you. Your friends, partners, and role models should all be people who lift you up and support you. You need to have friends who listen and care about what you have to say. I met my best friend at eleven and she is my biggest fan. She is a beautiful soul who I share everything with and I couldn’t imagine life without her. She feeds into my delusional dreams of the future and her belief in me is what sparks my need for adventure.
Ditch the dud. The dud can be anything holding you back- a job or career you don’t care for, a partner who is holding you back from anything you want to do, anything that limits you can be a dud and sometimes it needs to be gone to move forward.
Having a career you don’t love is a burden on your everyday state of mind and it’s hard to be happy when you wake up and your first thought is if you could get away with quitting your job without another one lined up.
Indulge in your passions. This seems easy enough to do but we often put our passions on the backburner for things like sleep and work or we compromise on our passions for someone else’s. Don’t give up on your DIYs, your tennis, or your stamp collection for anything. Set a certain amount of time aside each week to make time for ‘you time’. This one was the easiest for me. I go to the Dallas Comic Con every few months when they have an event and meet all of my favorite Sci Fi characters. Nathan Fillion is the funniest person I’ve ever met and Billie Piper called me pretty once. It’s easy to find happiness when you’re surrounded by people who love the same wonderful things you love.
Realize it’s okay to love yourself.
In every form of media that we swallow each day, there are layers and layers of material that tell women and men everywhere that we shouldn’t be happy with who we are and I think that’s an unnecessary amount of negativity to project onto our self worth. We should be confident about who we are, the way we look, and the things we are good at. You’re allowed to acknowledge that you’re good at something or look pretty with your hair a certain way- that’s not arrogance, it’s self-awareness.
Accepting who you are is important and if you want to lose weight or change something about yourself that’s fine too but you’re allowed to love yourself how you are. In fact, I would encourage it. I know I don’t have a model’s physique, my hair aims to misbehave, and my nail beds suck but I still have a perfect body because it’s mine. I didn’t become my happiest because of my weight but I didn’t despite it either. I became happy realizing my self love was uninhibited by my weight and now I finally have enough confidence to rock a crop top.