On the way out for a dinner with friends I started getting anxious about the fact there would be people attending I almost never see. Not only that I almost never see, but people that when I do see I feel incredibly awkward around, people that I edit myself around to the point where I am not myself. As the anxiety wrapped its familiar grip around my heart, I was suddenly overcome by a sense of peace and confidence. It was like my soul was speaking to my ego saying, “No, that’s not who you are anymore. You know yourself, you like yourself. They’re people – just people and you are a good and impressive person.”
That comfort stayed with me through the evening, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and is still humming in me as I write this. I have been pondering why now? What is it in my life that has finally allowed me to feel this authentic confidence in myself?
When I was younger I was physically confident. I liked my body and knew that others liked it, too. I knew I wasn’t going to be excluded from things or judged because of my looks, and I often used my looks to gain acceptance. I think that maybe that’s where I was in my personal understanding of self when I met this group of people. I remember clearly thinking that I didn’t want to talk for fear they would think I was a fraud or didn’t have anything good enough to say. I knew that they wouldn’t judge me negatively on the outside, so why give them a chance at the inside? This refusal to open myself up to criticism or rejection played out in my personal life as well. I would choose relationships where I knew the other person liked the outside, not realizing that it was the inside stuff that sustained real romance.
After years of relationships that never got to the level I wanted, I started to see that I needed to be seeking someone who was into the inside me. Unfortunately this also ended in self sabotage. My discomfort now came from my physical self. I didn’t want to be used for it and started to hide it. This manifested in weight gain. I put on 60 pounds in 8 years. The relationships I was in during that time and the friendships I formed were deeper and sincerely based on my inside self, but I was still hiding. I hid beneath the fat and used the defense that if someone really loved me for me they would look beyond the weight. It didn’t matter.
About 4 months ago I joined Jenny Craig and have lost 30 of those 60 pounds I started hiding behind. I am feeling really good about myself physically and spiritually. I feel like I am finally ready to be my whole self. That was what dawned on me in the car as I drove to dinner. I felt pretty and smart. I felt like I was ready to let these people see me, all of me. And, I did. I left the dinner feeling gratitude for the experiences that have shaped me, gratitude for the changes that are taking root in my life, and genuine affection for my dinner mates. I can’t wait to see what the future holds now that I feel like I both know myself inside and like who I am on the outside.