"I don't think that being a strong person is about ignoring your emotions and fighting your feelings. Putting on a brave face doesn't mean you're a brave person. That's why everybody in my life knows everything that I'm going through. I can't hide anything from them. People need to realise that being open isn't the same as being weak."

- Taylor Swift

Sunday, July 07, 2013

speak now #18: insecurities and confidence

Now Playing: Terrible Love by Birdy (I won't follow you into the rabbit hole, I said I would but then I saw your shriveled bones, they didn't want me to)

Although my depression wasn't really public knowledge, it was universally accepted that I was incredibly insecure. I remember in year eight we had to do presentations on ourselves and I was so self-deprecating and pessimistic one of the questions afterwards was quite literally 'why do you hate yourself so much?'

I have struggled with insecurities for a very long time. A lot of it is that I found it really hard to maintain strong, reliable, healthy relationships; friends that I loved and trusted beyond belief simply walked away, stabbed me in the back, joined in with the various hate campaigns, refused to stand up for me. A lot of people comment that I'm always in fight or flight mode in relationships; it's true that I find it hard to rely on people like I used to, and sometimes paranoia can set in and fuck things up occasionally.

My insecurities about what I look like are quite complicated; I felt like they were encouraged, or at the very least expected - people expected that someone like me wouldn't exactly feel a million bucks. But it's only now that I've graduated and talked to people from high school away from the petty playground politics I've realised that people have used my looks as a scapegoat; they hated my ideas, my opinions, my blog, my academic success, and decided to retaliate by making me feel like the ugliest gargoyle in the planet. My reputation amongst boys was 'radical feminist', and therefore I was entirely unworthy of attention; the impact that had on how I felt about myself can't be overstated.

I still have my fair share of insecurities. They pop up when I am at my most vulnerable and have come very close to ruining the relationships that are the most precious to me. But, these days, I'm much more confident, especially about my appearance. My friends ask me how I do it; the haters are still hating. Here are my sex-positive tips on how to remember that you're awesome sauce, no matter what they say.

1. Remember that everyone is insecure.

I used to irrationally hate pretty people; because a lot of my bullies were the pretty girls, because I was attracted to most of them and refusing to admit it, and because I thought they were immune to the insecurities and self hate that crippled me. Since going to uni and making new friends and working in the Bare Truth Campaign I realised the extent to which the disease of ugly has infected our society; nobody likes anything about themselves anymore, and it's tragic that we have all condemned ourselves to a life of ugliness. I used to think that I was insecure because I was ugly; but the truth is, we're all insecure because we're human, and even the most beautiful, perfect people have their fair share of insecurities.

2. Figure out what they're really hating on.

I really couldn't give two shits if someone has a problem with my feminism. I don't want anything to do with them; they are not worthy of my attention. I always laugh when people say that I'm making myself unpopular because I'm 'so feminist'; I'm trying to weed out those people who can't get it up because I'm 'so feminist'. I know now that most of my bullies hated that I refused to be silent, refused to compromise and bow down, that I refused to conform and refused to give way. But they always made it about how I looked, and hit me at my weakest points. They didn't care about what I looked like; actually, a lot of them had tried to hit on me but had gotten offended when I was offended by all the offensive misogynistic bullshit they spouted in an attempt to impress me. Because so much of a woman's worth in our society is based on physical appearance it's often an easy target; but nobody is really that offended by what anyone looks like.

3. Find your crowd. 

I didn't really find my crowd at primary school, or even in high school. Now I'm at uni and I've really found my crowd; the one person from primary school that I've kept in contact with, a handful of people from high school, and many new friends. I definitely felt a lot of pressure to magically find self confidence all by myself, to feel amazing even when everyone was trying to drag me down; but everyone deserves to have people in their life to remind them that they're beautiful.

4. Get naked. 

I can't count how many people I've freaked out with this advice because nudity is so taboo and sexualised in our society but yes, I've spent a lot of time naked (I mean, not now, it's freezing, but the risk of pneumonia is kind of low in Perth summers) and I've genuinely become really comfortable with my body this way. I used to hate what looked back at me in the mirror; once I was getting undressed before a shower, caught sight of my reflection and burst into tears. Now I love it. Scars and all.

5. Touch.

So now we're really getting into taboo territory...

I think the reason why people - especially girls - are insecure about their bodies is because their bodies are so alien to them. Get used to how things look and feel and how different places respond to different touches. I have really sensitive, scarred, problematic skin and one of my favourite things to do is to give myself hot oil massages; and in the process you really come to admire all the angles, all the lines and curves, how things feel and respond to touch. The more body aware you are, the more body love you'll have.

6. Empower yourself.

Women are constantly told that so much of their worth is tied to what they look like and, well, that's bullshit. Do something with your life. Go out there and change lives and change the world. Some of the most rewarding work I've done is in my pyjamas with unwashed hair no makeup but dang it, I felt good.

7. Fight back.

Next time someone tries to shame you for being confident, or someone tries to exacerbate your insecurities about your not-supermodel body or it's-nearly-my-period breakout, cut them down. You think you're hot shit, don't you?

Yes. Yes I do. Thank you.


No comments: