Most of us go through our lives with some type of self confidence issues. That is just the reality of the world we live in. We are used to seeing women on the front of magazines and on shows perfectly designed and without a flaw or blemish. We see men who have 6-pack abs and perfect hair and a chiseled face. I don’t care what society says, women AND men go through comparing themselves to the people they look up to. I would be lying if I said I was any different. But consider yourself with self confidence problems and then add on top a chronic pain condition. Let me be the first to tell you, it is a true disaster.
I want to start off by saying that the tricks our minds play on us is just that. Tricks. We are just as perfect as we were intended to be. But I know that whoever is on the other side of this screen thinks that is bullshit. In my opinion- despite it being true- I agree that it is a very overused phrase. It has lost a lot of its meaning. Those who preach self confidence tend to be the ones judging the hardest. So I am not going to preach that today. Instead, I’m going to tell you a story.
When I was younger, I always had self confidence issues. First it was my glasses. Then it was not being girly enough. Then it became weight. As I got older, instead of changing out the thing I am self conscious about, I began making it into a list. By the time I was going into high school it was weight, shape of body, hair, eyes, smile, and so much more. Did I mention weight? I went into freshman year comparing myself to every single person. It didn’t help that I was in the “popular girl” friend group- and yet I didn’t feel like I was like them. *cough cough that’s because I was a kind person* Anywho, growing up in this day and age is incredibly difficult. There are too many comparisons out there and promises on how to “fix” ourselves or become the people we want to be. When I was a freshman and playing soccer I was the skinniest I’ve ever been. I won’t give the weight because that’s not important but I was suffering from the stress of walking back to my friends after getting weighed in gym and having to respond to them asking the question “how much did you weigh?!”. First, gym should never put kids in that position and second, parents need to teach their kids some boundaries. Once I was a sophomore, I was in a much better friend group. This theater group was built on support and love. I wasn’t stressed about putting on a new costume and getting measured on stage because I knew I wouldn’t be judged. I slowly began moving away from the critics both in my head and in my inner circle. That was until the most self-confidence damaging thing moved into not only my head, but my whole body.
People don’t think about every single aspect affected when someone is dealt an illness. That is one of the reasons I write this blog. When I got CRPS, I instantly knew that my self confidence was not off limits. I began taking several medications, stopped moving much, stopped caring about makeup/hair, outfits, and so much more. It changed everything that I (emphasis on I) counted towards my self confidence. Not only did I feel in complete terror on this inside, but it started showing up in the mirror as well. I felt like I looked just as sickly and disgusting as I felt. I felt like I looked bloated and swollen. Due to some medication I gained weight and began getting bad acne. In my head, I was no longer on that route to looking like the “perfect girl” that the media and people tell me to look like. I lost interest in friends and relationships. This was because of how much pain I was in, but I blamed it on not being skinny or pretty enough. So much had been stripped away and my confidence was at an all time low.
This was an incredibly hard rough patch in my life. This level of self-confidence (or lack thereof) was making me see a completely different person in the mirror. I remember one day standing in my bathroom after school. I was tired. I was in pain. I looked in the mirror and just cried. I silently screamed at myself because I didn’t like the way I looked. I had never hit that point before. I realized that I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror. All I saw was pain and hurt and disgust. I felt like I couldn’t get away from the skin we call a body fast enough. That is what is scary about illnesses. They don’t only consume what part of your body is affected, they consume you as a whole. I look back at pictures of me during this time, and I don’t even see much of a difference. Now, I don’t even think I looked bad. But in the time I had the flaming lenses tinting what I saw in the mirror. It is a long, hard road to come back from when someone gets to that point. The self love was so lacking, I believed I would be faking it for the rest of my life. “As long as no one knows”. I am now writing this today and saying that I have the most self-confidence I’ve had since this rock bottom moment. Let me tell you what changed.
Mindset. I truly believe that mindset can make or break your life. No matter what you have gone/are going/will go through, the mindset will determine who you are on the other side. I still look in magazines and think I’m so ugly compared to those girls. I even look at pictures on Instagram of other girls my age and think that I couldn’t even compare. Now, is it because my life isn’t the same as theirs? Is it because I’m not the same size, height, or have the same beauty? Is it because I’m envious of their pain-free life? (Which might not even be true btw). Absolutely not.
I have a theory. I want you to take a moment and think of that friend, influencer, movie star, or anyone that you’d like to look like. Now what does that thought bring you? I can say I suddenly feel overwhelming sad and a lack of control in my life. At this exact moment I feel like I should stop eating altogether and go to the gym. Am I being dramatic? Or am I too passionate? I don’t think any of us are. I believe that when we think we are jealous of what someone looks like- we actually aren’t. We are jealous of the happiness and satisfaction they present with their life. Confusing? Let me give you an example, me.
Currently I am a college graduate, going into graduate school, and living at home (hopefully not for much longer). I am still dealing with a shit ton of pain and I attend the gym almost every day. I am still on so much medication, but I am trying to take better care of myself. BUT it is still a struggle. Now, switch over to Youtube. I watch someone named Soph Mosca. She is an LGBTQ advocate living in Florida with her girlfriend. She has a significant following, goes to the beach all the time, and has an adorable apartment. She has tattoos, surfs, and rides a longboard. She travels and her work is being a social influencer. In my head I notice myself constantly comparing myself to her. She’s the type of person that I would beat myself up about. I would say that I could never be as thin or as pretty as her. No matter what I did I couldn’t look like her. I’m a girl suffering from chronic pain. No freakin duh I’ll never look like her. I’m supposed to only ever look like myself. But something I realized is that this all wasn’t because I was jealous of her size or her hobbies. I mean I have my own. Turning gay or surfing wouldn’t make me look like her. But here’s the truth. I wasn’t self-conscious because I didn’t have her body. I was self-conscious because I wasn’t as happy or as at peace with the way my life is. I discovered that I’m not comparing my body to hers all the time because I want my body to look like that. Deep down I determined that looking like her meant that I’d have her life. I’d be just as happy and simple as her. Truth is, I just want to be as free as her. You don’t have to be sick just to get this. This is something, I believe, every single person goes through.
There are so many reasons why we aren’t living a free life. I am sure there is something that is keeping Soph Mosca in shackles. For some that may be an illness. For others that may be social status. Weight, height, muscle tone, talents, economic status, familial status, sexual orientation, intelligence. We all have something that causes us to compare ourselves. I am telling you that the comparison is more deep than you think. I am trying to break out of the shackles of my illness. I know it’ll take some time. I think my shackles are made out of like freakin titanium or something. Once we can break out, we will be able to let go and stop the desire to be/look like someone else. No matter what your life hands you or looks like, I promise at the end of it you’ll think it was the most incredible, beautiful ride. Like many other people my shackles lead to other shackles. But imagine what that freedom will feel like. I get chills just thinking about it. Before I log off, I want to ask you something. What are your shackles? When you break free of them I want you to ask yourself the same question I asked of you earlier. Think of that one influencer, celebrity, friend, etc. that you’d like to look like OR be like. That’s a trick question. This should be impossible. You know why? Because you should only want to look and be like you. ❤️