It’s been going on as long as I can remember, and it started some time during my elementary school years. That little voice that instigates comparisons and tells me I’m not good enough. I can be watching a TV show filled with beautiful people that basically aren’t real people and start wondering how I can make my thighs not touch like the lead character. I can be out with others and meeting new people and start worrying that I’m not as witty or funny to keep up with the group. Or one of my friends makes a new friend that has different, cooler interests than mine, and I immediately try to figure out how I can prevent myself from being replaced.
I know I’m not the only one who does this, and I can’t just call it a “girl thing.” But a certain female writer recently put this sensation into words in a way that I never could:
What Men Want In A Woman by Chelsea Fagan
I read this piece at work the other day and started tearing up, not because I just went through a break up (no worries guys, me and the boy are still going strong after 3 1/2 years), but because I’ve felt everything she writes about at one point or another in my life. I know what it’s like to feel the need to change every single part of myself to the point where I’m not me anymore just to meet someone else’s expectations, and know deep down that it still won’t be what they need.
“I have people in my life — including, yes, a man — who have chosen to be there because of what existed there already. And when I was torturing myself over the loss of someone who never really wanted me, the idea that I could have changed his mind is what really killed me.” – Chelsea Fagan
This has been a tough lesson to learn, especially as someone who looks to constantly keep improving themselves. I know I can always do something better than I’ve done it before and there’s a fine line between improvement and changing who you are. Of course, when you think about that, you start overthinking all your decisions and drive yourself crazy.
But as I was saying, it’s a tough lesson to learn, and it applies to more than romantic relationships. Friends, work, family, I know I’m always striving to everyone’s ideal in these relationships. I want to be exactly what they want in a daughter, sister, friend, employee. What I’ve recently learned is that changing my own interests or aiming for impossible physical goals won’t work. If anything, it will eliminate what these people liked about me in the first place.
I had an epiphany with this a couple months ago when I felt jealous of my boyfriend’s friends that love and are great at video games. I like them but I don’t want to play them all the time, and I’m not particularly great at them. After expressing said jealousy, he told me something that kind of blew my mind, which was that he loved me for what I’m into, not for me trying to be into the same things he likes. It shouldn’t be mind-blowing, right? That’s something I should just understand after 3 1/2 years together, or after being friends with someone for a long time, or having a job for about two years.
Which leads me to this next piece:
You Deserve Love As Big As Your Thighs by Alexandra Bochetto
I won’t delve too far into the body positive message of this one (as I have done so before, here), but I’ll say that the title of this piece is brilliant.
When I leave my home and walk past people on the street, I’ll constantly fix myself – keep my shirt from riding up, elongate my neck to make sure that sinful double chin isn’t sticking out to ruin everyone’s view. Because despite physically being alone, I am never quite alone. – Alexandra Bochetto
I’m figuring out just how exhausting it is to constantly compare myself to others. When I meet another girl, I need to stop noticing all the ways she’s better than me and why people will like her more than me. I especially need to stop comparing my size and shape to theirs, because it’s usually different in ways that are impossible to fix (and in ways that I should really just embrace).
Everyone is different and it’s beautiful, and it’s what makes bringing new people into our lives interesting. And when you find someone that loves the shit out of you just for being you, then you shouldn’t agonize over what they like about other people that you don’t have.
I think a huge part of this is accepting that there are people out there that love you exactly as you are. Many people will try to change you and make you feel bad to incite some change, but the ones that matter just want you to be your awesome, weird, quirky self. As Paul Rudd said in Knocked Up, “do you ever wonder how somebody could eve like you?” All the time. And we – and by we I mean me, of course – need to stop wondering that.
Every over-enthusiastic women’s magazine I read tells me that confidence is the sexiest trait you can have, and that’s the only piece of advice I’ll ever take from them. It’s totally true. When you meet someone who isn’t insanely self-conscious or putting on a mask all the time, it’s refreshing. And so I’m making it my goal for the rest of the year – since resolutions aren’t only for the beginning of the year – to silence those voices that tell me I’m not good enough or smart enough, and just learn to love myself as I am. There is always room for improvement, but I can’t lose myself in the process.