I have been so critical of myself over the past several years. Honestly, I cannot remember the last time I was confident and proud of my entire being. Sure I smile big and seem to have it all together, but I have a dirty secret and that is my bag of self deprecating hangups. I have always hated the way my mouth moves and looks in pictures and on camera. I’ve obsessed over my skinny thighs and calves. You wouldn’t ever catch me in shorts because my skinny legs seemed to never end. My hair was too bushy. Eyelashes to straight. My clothes were too busy and colorful. My voice too high. And I was too shy to casually strike up effervescent conversations with strangers or parlay with gatekeepers to get me into elite socialite circles. I avoided opportunities to speak for fear of not saying something profound and groundbreaking. I felt like I had an assertive and bold potential somewhere inside me, but when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror or on camera, I would cringe in embarrassment at my awkward and less than perfect self.
Getting compliments on a nice dress does not shift perspective woman. It truly starts from within. So when in my mind, I felt too skinny, too bucktooth, or not funny enough for the company I was in, self doubt and inadequacy took over my subconscious and no form of flattery would actually sink in. I have always been able to appear self assured and act the part, because in my very stressful training to become a doctor, I had to act the part to keep from getting annihilated on rotations, during rounds, and obviously when giving presentations. I learned to appear very undaunted and self assured when I was actually quite nervous and uncertain. Maybe it was in medical school that I developed an unhealthy habit of carrying self doubt and insecurities masked by a big smile and poise.
I recently decided to go through my Google photos in an attempt to start creating regular content for my IG page. Since 2020 did not have many photos for me to scroll through, I quickly ended up swiping through 2019 and 2018 images of myself at different events around town and while traveling. I was blown away at my smile, my body, my hair and my outfits. After having gained over 10 pounds during the 2020 pandemic year, I can no longer fit my size 2/XS clothes – the same size I’ve worn since college. As I scrolled through my life in pictures, I wished that I had given that version of me permission to accept myself for who I was. That lady was fabulous! I dressed flashy and colorful most times, and over the top sometimes. I had a lot of thick, long, glorious hair that is actually to die for. My teeth are big and bright and straight, so sometimes my lips protrude in side profile pics – but it was kind of cute on me.
As I continued to scroll through with more compassion for my younger self, I became saddened that I had sold to Poshmark many of my favorite outfits because after wearing them one time, I hated how I looked in the mirror. But in hindsight it had nothing to do with the clothes. I was regretful that I did not enjoy many parties and social events to the fullest because I was worried about how uninteresting I may have sounded to certain people. And I realize now that I’m not shy, I’m simply discerning and sensitive. Many of those people’s opinions did not even matter.
I hated being skinny and never thought I would miss being a size 2. I’ve magically sized up to a 6 over 18 month’s time. Now in my 30’s I have to workout to keep my weight under control. I took a lot for granted. My legs are still long and thin. But now I say ‘how did I get so lucky?’
On my birthday this June, I decided to start making meaningful and impactful changes in my life. Not just resolutions and positive affirmations, but I would get discipled and perform daily actionable practices to change my life. I now read more, pray more, and even go the gym every day. But the part I had not included was being kind and compassionate to myself. I was not being my biggest fan for so many years. I worried about what I thought other people were thinking of me. I was creating unnecessary and quite heavy baggage. It is amazing at what a little time and distance will help make clear to us.
I cannot believe how much affection and happiness I stole from myself for so many years of my youth. From this day forward, I vow that I will practice self-love. I will not only look the part, but I will actually be confident in my own mind, body, and soul. Rather than dwell on the past, I am so excited to embrace my fine, smart, funny, gorgeous, creative, passionate and dope AF chocolately self. I’m letting go of the bag today.
Judging yourself harshly and not showing yourself love is self sabotage and will age you. Self confidence and elevated self esteem adds vitality and attractiveness. They also directly correlate with your ability to achieve success and life of happiness.
Here are some ways to boost self confidence:
- Look back at old photos of times you were proud of yourself or at your happiest and enjoy those feelings. Look at the times you were overly critical and apologize to yourself.
- Stop comparing yourself to others. If you find yourself scrolling through IG or FB with envy or sadness, log off!
- Keep a gratitude list or journal to remind yourself of all the wonderful things you’ve got going on in your life.
- Learn to accept compliments. Say a simple thank you, smile, and let the compliment sink in. Decide to believe it.
- Surround Yourself with Positive people that you feel good and comfortable around. Be mindful of who you are around when toxic feelings are evoked. Get them out of your life.
- Practice self-care daily to improve your mental and physical well being. This includes a healthy diet, good sleep hygiene, regular exercise, and some form of relaxation/meditation.
- Treat yourself with kindness at all times. There are enough critics and haters in the world. When you make a mistake, give yourself grace and experience self compassion.
- Try using positive talk. Instead of saying “I messed up again”, say “At least I learned something new”. This practice will help mitigate self doubt and encourage confidence to try again.
- Face your Fears. For example, If you avoid speaking up at networking events, try chatting with someone new to break out of that fear. You will get used to working through discomfort. Tell yourself it is just an experiment so that you do not place too much importance on the outcome.
What Self-Sabotaging baggage have you been carrying around that you should finally let go? Or maybe you can share how you show self love and grace. Comment!