Tag Archives: love yourself

trying to make it while trying to look like we’ve made it.

dax_7months

So. This happened last week.

Well. Uh. To be honest, the pictures were actually taken last night. But little Dax Arthur turned 7 months old on the 19th.

I know. I’m slacking a little bit. BUT WHATEVER, I WORK FULL TIME AND I’M A MOM OKAY? I’M SUPER BUSY, COME AT ME.

* shifty eyes *

My mom and I were talking the other day about how all of my friends, both from my childhood and my adulthood, keep popping out babies lately. Three of them came into the world in the past ten days. (Hi Joshua! Hi Parker! Hi Eleanor! You all are very cute! It’s nice to meet you! Sorry about all the rain!) A handful of friends are also pregnant right now, due to join the mommy club in the next few months. It’s quite exciting, but also sobering.

This revelation comes about a year away from my ten-year high school reunion. This is a bit scary. When did we all get here? When did we all become parents? Just yesterday we were (read: I was) waking up at 5:30 in the morning, even though school started two hours later, to flat iron our (my) unruly hair and apply copious amounts of makeup in order to look like we were (I was) the sole human(s) that weren’t affected by the awkwardness of adolescence. Just yesterday we were (I was) worried about whether or not our (my) skirts were short/long enough to make us (me) look older than we were (I was) but not too old. Just yesterday we were (I was) throwing shaving cream at each other in the senior class parking lot, pausing from all the fun to catch our (my) reflections in the side-view mirrors of random vehicles to ensure we (I) still looked “pretty”.  But today, we are (I am) leaving the house covered in pureed sweet potatoes and spit-up, furiously wiping ourselves (myself) down in the car on the way to work, scrambling to find babysitters so we can take our (my) husband(s) on a dang date.

How did we (I) get here?

Blah. I don’t know. But what I do know is that, based on the conversations I keep having and on the Facebook statuses I keep reading, one thing remains the same.

We’re all still trying to make it. But we’re all trying to make it look like we’ve already made it.

Last week, the Durrenbergers were in a funk. After letting Dan and I get used to long stretches of uninterrupted sleep at night, Dax was up several times wanting to nurse which, despite how cute he is, irritated us. Our exhaustion led to crankiness all over and it was like every word that shot out of Dan’s mouth was poison to my soul and every glance I gave him lit up all his insecurities.

All unintentional, of course. (Side note: Dax is officially cutting a tooth. I get it now.)

It was just a week. One, measly week in the almost five years of our relationship. But even still, it was enough to make me question everything.

Am I a good wife? 

Am I a good mother?

If I were either of those things, life wouldn’t be so hard right now.

All of a sudden I am reliving the days where I woke up at ZERO DARK THIRTY to literally burn my kinky hair into stick-straight submission before high school (shout out to all the flat irons that were manufactured before keeping your hair un-damaged was a legitimate concern). Just like back in my awkward teenage days, I just want to have it all together. But, more so than that, I just want to look like I have it all together.

I remember when I was still on maternity leave, a girl at church remarked about how put-together I looked. She was astonished that a new mom like myself could just effortlessly waltz into church on a Sunday, my newborn baby snugly sound asleep against my chest in my Maya Wrap, with the curls on my head falling into perfect place with just the right amount of makeup on to communicate, “Yeah, I made it here. And still look good. But whatever, I guess motherhood is just so easy. I don’t know what everyone is so upset about. We’re all sleeping great. And I just don’t have to try.”

The secret? I TRIED REALLY FREAKING HARD, OKAY? BECAUSE I AM INSANE SOMETIMES. I wasn’t back at work yet so if my kid fell asleep (notice I said IF) the first thing I’d do was curl my hair and put on makeup. Yes, even before I showered or took a nap of my own. Because  I wanted so badly to look like I’d made it already, despite the fact that my baby was only a few weeks old and only enjoyed two things — screaming and nursing. Not sleeping. Or like, smiling.

Just like on those days when I’d stroll into my first period class like, “What? This? Yeah, my hair is so gorgeously straight, just by nature. Nah, I don’t do anything really. I mean I have a flat iron but, whatever.”

That was almost ten years ago. Am I really no different?

I’d like to believe there are other people out there. Women who are planning their weddings and trying to effortlessly please everyone on the guest list. Dads who work two jobs to provide for their families and by the time they get home they have a strung-out wife and a crying baby to answer to. Girls who show up to their high school every day praying that the outfit they chose that morning doesn’t bring about the bullying accusations of thinner girls.

I’d like to believe there are more people than just me in this boat.

In the event that I’m right in assuming that so many of us are actually walking shells, imposters even, of our true selves, I’d like to challenge us all to just let ourselves be. 

Just. Be.

What does that look like for me to just be? At the moment, it means hitting the snooze button a few extra times in the morning instead of waking up at the first (way too early) alarm to style my unruly hair. It means not cringing at the thought of someone randomly coming over to my always-messy house before I get the chance to deep-clean it. It means not stressing over the fact that my baby ate non-organic bananas one time. It means taking Dax’s 7-month pictures when he’s actually 7 months and one week old. It means giving myself a freaking break.

Because despite what I think, I haven’t made it yet. And I might never make it. But I’d rather spend my days just living than trying to look like I’m living a certain way.

Ya feel me, homies?

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thanks, friday favorites!

Over the past couple months I’ve been doing this series, I’ve been challenged to look at myself each week, even when I really really RE-HE-HEALLY didn’t want to, and find one thing about myself that I appreciate and blog about it. From my hair to my outfit to my personality traits and likes and dislikes — things about me that are either physical, mental, internal, or external — I’ve been able to find at least one thing each week that I happen to enjoy. This practice has definitely been a necessary discipline for this season of my growth. 

I was struggling to write a Friday Favorite today, not because I couldn’t think of anything about which to write, but because I couldn’t pick just one thing.

That may seem narcissistic, and if it does, I apologize. Those who know me well know I am anything but a narcissist. But I think that this can only mean one thing.

The series worked. It ran its course and did its job.

I’m glad I stepped out in faith and did this for as long as I did. I think that, by doing this, I’ve gotten my spirit to a good place as far as my self-love journey goes.

And so, Friday Favorites, I bid you a fond farewell. You’ve been quite good to me.

NOW COME AT ME, THREE DAY WEEKEND!

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to be known and, yet, loved.

I think it’s safe to say that there are few things in life we want more than to be totally known and still loved at the same time. If you were to break down each and every insecurity I have to its bare bones, you’d probably find this deep-seated desire.

To be known and, yet, loved.

This blog has been the vehicle by which I achieve self-love. By being honest and vulnerable in my writing, I’ve learned how to look myself in the mirror – through my reflection as well as at it — and be fully delighted in the image before me. (Well, for the most part. We never really arrive, do we?)

But, as far as letting other people love me, I’m not entirely sure I’m there yet. I still seek it. I still crave it. I still wish to, whether it be romantically, familially, or relationally, be surrounded by a small, yet fierce group of individuals who know every deep, dark, twisted ingredient to my soul and still find me worthy of love. However, despite this burning passion (which, as I learned recently, comes from a Greek word that actually appropriately means “willingness to suffer”) to be known and loved, I still find myself holding back out of fear.

I’m just so scared to let many people get close enough.

They get kind of close, I guess. Pretty close, even. But not that close. Not close enough to “smell my farts”, if you will. (Confused? Refer back to this post.)

I lamented over this desire to a friend over lunch last week. As I clumsily poked at my thai noodle soup with my cheap, splintery chopsticks, swirling the chives and roasted duck in a deep brown broth, I breathed my fear into the steam rising from the bowl.

“I’m just so worried I’ll get found out, you know?”

And there it is.

You begin a relationship with someone and, at first, everything is perfect. Everything is coming up roses, as they say. But, as time passes, you get “found out” — the roses begin to wilt and droop, leaving behind a soggy soil of past regrets, hurts, and insecurities. That can be scary. It is, at least, for me.

“When I first met you, I knew you were a hot mess,” my friend replied.

Well, okay but tell me how you really feel?

“But that’s not you anymore,” he clarified. “And those who really know you know that.”

A statement almost as comforting as thai noodle soup. Almost.

The story isn’t over when the roses wilt. If the soil is still there — albeit quite messy — beautiful things, lovely things, can still spring from it.

Allowing someone to get close enough to you to bend down and work their fingers through your dirty soil also allows them to plant seeds of life — beautiful words of encouragement, trust, and, yes, even love can foster the growth of a gorgeous garden of a real life worth loving. A real relationship with a real person worth celebrating.

The ability to be known and, even still, adored.

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guest post: WOW wednesday on m2hf.

All throughout the month of May, my good friend Lindsey is asking “Women of Wisdom” to write guest posts on her blog each Wednesday. I’m honored to be one of the people she asked to contribute. Today, my post is up on her blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

…There are certainly two ways you can gain wisdom – you can live through some “real stuff” and you can surround yourself with and try to learn from those whom have lived through some “real stuff.”

Even though I’m only 26, I’ve already had to live through some pretty intense stuff: growing up with an absentee father, suffering from an eating disorder, being treated for mental illness… But, I think, the hardest piece of life I ever had to live was two and a half years of an abusive relationship. I couldn’t get out of it because I was afraid I’d get even more hurt than I already was on a daily basis. So I stayed. And it was awful.

Click here to read the rest of the post. And don’t forget to check out the rest of her blog as well!

Happy WOW Wednesday!

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your body: objectified.

Have you ever thought about why things are designed the way they are? Like, why does a pair of shears have a particularly shaped handle? And why does a chair look the way it does? Why are the keys on a keyboard shaped as such?

This weekend, some friends and I watched a documentary called Objectified that addresses the theory and beauty behind the design of objects. What the documentary shows (I think, anyway… I can’t be totally sure because I feel as though the film, as well as the other people that were in the room watching it, is infinitely more intelligent than I am) is that a lot of people don’t really give a lot of thought to why things look a certain way. They just use the products, completely unaware of the intricate and meticulous intentionality behind their design.

The best example of this, I think, was a Japanese toothpick — at first glance, it looks like any regular toothpick. But on the end, you’ll find two little grooves that cause the toothpick to break. This isn’t because the toothpick is defective. This is intended for two reasons: 1) to communicate to other people the toothpick has been used, and 2) to create a nifty little toothpick “stand” for it to sit on.

[Image source]

On the other hand, some people are drawn to objects simply because of their design. The design cultivates some sort of emotional response within the user: This product is reliable (Toyota Camry). This product is promotes a youthful image (MacBook Pro). This product is what’s in right now. (Prada sunglasses). Whatever. 

When I got pregnant, I scheduled a meeting with one of my favorite female mentors to tell her the good news and pick her brain about the next stage in my life. Not parenthood, mind you — but pregnancy. I had no idea what to expect being pregnant and, even more than that, was overly concerned about what I should be doing/should not be doing while gestating a child.

The best thing she offered me went like this:

“Lindsay, God is a perfect designer. He has already designed your body for this. It is already doing what it is supposed to do. You just get to enjoy it.”

My body was designed for this. This, among every other thing I do in a day. I was designed.

My body (as well as yours) is an object that was delicately created, each part with a specific purpose. Eyes to see. Ears to hear. Hands to feel and lungs to breathe. But, in contrast of, say, the toothpick, our bodies are also objects that evoke emotion, whether they were created to or not. And in this society, women’s bodies in particular have been known to conjure up some pretty gnarly emotions.

This morning when I woke up, the first thing I thought of was how uncomfortable and obnoxious my even-bigger-than-before-if-you-can-believe-it boobs are. Now that I’m about seven months pregnant, my body is hardly recognizable to me anymore and, on top of that, hurts everywhere. While wrapping my arms around my ever-expanding frame, I squeezed so hard I winced in pain, praying silently that it would just STOP. I thought of all the celebrities who have babies and are back in bikinis on the cover of magazines the following week, loudly proclaiming that they, “Got [their] body back!” as if their selfish and menacing children stole it from them and I wanted to scream. I remembered all the times I tried to starve every lump, rump, and bump on my body away, wishing they’d disappear forever, never to be pointed out by raunchy men or ogled over by pissy women ever again.

But what if it the toothpick was subject to the same standards we are as women? Though we are both equally designed for functionality and appeal, what if the toothpick had to put up with the same stuff we women do, both from ourselves and society as a whole?

Imagine for a minute the toothpick is sentient (let’s call him Toothy McPickster) and someone came along and pointed at the grooves in Toothy’s abdomen and demanded he get rid of those disgusting “love handles”?

That’s ridiculous, right? Those grooves were put there specifically to fulfill a greater purpose after Toothy does his duty of picking someone’s teeth. So why must they be scrutinized? Particularly when he can’t do anything to change them that doesn’t require some sort of painful procedure, probably in the form of carving away these grooves? (Insert plastic surgery/crash dieting/other harmful way of body modification metaphor here.)

Just as I was about to curse my body yet one more time today, I remembered my son. And how my body is an object that was designed to give him life.

I’ve pored over the words of Psalm 139 countless times in my life — I’ve even written the words across the top of my bathroom mirror in dry-erase marker — but they take on a whole, new meaning after watching Objectified.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.

We were designed for a purpose, whether we know what that purpose is (feet to walk, eyelids to blink) or we don’t (big breasts, small butts, wide hips, bumpy tummies).

In a world that does everything it can to objectify us on its own terms, let us be objectified on our Creator’s terms. 

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a good body image kick in the pants.

I’m 20 weeks pregnant. I’m halfway done.

I’ve also gained ten (!!!) pounds, which is exactly half as much weight as my doctor told me I should gain during the pregnancy. In reality, I’m right on track. (Halfway there when I’m halfway there! That makes sense! Half a pound a week from here on out, right?) But as of right now, this second, I’m not doing so well. Instead of being a new mom, carrying around and sustaining a healthy baby boy, my mind is in the dark and can only see myself as a woman who has gained ten pounds in five months and can’t button her jeans which means she’s ugly, worthless, stupid, a bad friend, a horrible cook, a horrible mom, a horrible wife, who will never be a published writer…

Sigh. Isn’t it ridiculous how a bad body image can poison the otherwise awesome parts that make you you? Or am I just THAT mental?

I can usually talk myself out of feeling like a whale by reminding myself, Lindsay! You are building a life! But it’s hard to switch a twentysomething-year-old paradigm (that gaining weight is the absolute WORST thing I could ever do, save maybe intentionally running over a litter of kittens) just because I got knocked up a few months ago.

Today, HelloGiggles posted an article by Julia Gazdag that was the body image kick in the pants I needed, even though it’s not directly aimed at pregnant women. It’s a great reminder about the heavy implications and repercussions of falling victim to a broken society’s view of beauty.

This excerpt in particular was one I really needed to read today:

You’re not attractive because you look like the airbrushed neo-Barbie posing with a giant bottle in a vodka ad, or the limitlessly fancy red carpet starlet. You’re attractive because of how you tell a story, how your eyes crinkle when you smile, how you love a certain author so fervently, and any number of other trite rom-com clichés. Because there’s actually truth to those sappy monologues – the most attractive thing about anyone is what makes them unique, not what makes them blend in. Anyone who is more focused on your looks than your self is bad news and in all likelihood cares very little about you as a person, except to use you as an accessory. We’re women, not purses, and that means we can own our greatness instead of comparing it to that of others while vying for mediocraty.

To read the rest of Julia’s article (and possibly get the kick in the pants you need) click here.

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tuesday tip — be your own valentine.

DISCLAIMER: I’m going to write this as if we all went to grade school together in my little hometown. If you didn’t go to school with me, hooray for you! You get to pretend for a whole five minutes that you did!

Valentine’s Day in schools kind of eased us into reality, didn’t it?

Do you remember it?  In elementary school, we’d all come to school toting boxes of little cardboard Valentines, one for each of our classmates. No more, no less. Every one of us kids received the same amount of little I Choo-Choo-Choose You! cards stuffed in our paper sack “mailboxes” and, at the end of the day, couldn’t see straight from all the Valentine’s Day candy we’d consume together as a class.

Everyone got the same amount of love. Everyone was special.

But come high school, things changed. We all graduated from the communist love-fest that was boxed Valentine sets to “Candy-grams,” tokens of love that were purchased from student government. In case you forget, Candy-grams were carnation flowers with some candy and a sweet Valentine’s Day message attached to them. Adorable, right?

If one was bought for you, a member of the student government would barge into one of your classes and publicly deliver the Candy-gram to you in front of all your classmates to show just how adored you were. It was the ultimate Valentine’s Day popularity contest because, at the end of the day, the most popular (and, therefore, the most loved) people would be carting around the most carnations.

Most years, I’d be lucky to get even one. It’s true. I rarely got these Candy-grams.

(Here’s the saddest thing you’ll ever read: my undying defense of my high school popularity.) You know, I bet you it’s not because I didn’t have friends. Au contraire! I was one of those people who was friends with everyone. (Seriously. EVERYONE. How else would I have been voted onto Prom Court my senior year? SHOUT OUT!) It must have been that I didn’t get Candy-grams because I had so many friends that they all assumed that I was already getting my very own bouquet of Candy-grams and that they didn’t need to send me one more droopy flower to carry. (Sure, self, whatever you say.)

Sad, isn’t it? Anyway…

The truth of the matter, though, is that no matter the reasoning behind my empty-handed state on Valentine’s Day (I had too many friends, you see!) I always felt incredibly lame when I didn’t have at least one Candy-gram to show off. As cheap and fragile as those little flowers were, they carried on them the entire weight of my self-worth. If I had no flowers, I had no worth.

Sad. But true.

But, you know, that’s the reality of life. Life isn’t governed by the elementary school Everyone is special, everyone gets a Valentine! doctrine. High school Candy-grams really hit the nail on the head — some people love you, and some people don’t. Some people think you deserve a Candy-gram on Valentine’s Day. Some people don’t.

And that’s okay!

TODAY’S SELF-LOVE TIP: BE YOUR OWN VALENTINE.

A couple years ago, I found a quote on my cousin’s girlfriend’s Facebook profile. I don’t know who said it, but after reading it, all my Candy-gram-less Valentine’s Days melted away into the background.

Remember to plant your own garden instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

Sheesh. Amen, Whoeversaidthat. (FYI, according to Google, it could have been a hundred people.)

On this Valentine’s Day, whether you have a traditional “Valentine” or not, make a commitment to be your own Valentine first.

Here are some ways you can do that:

  • Write a love-note (ahem, or Candy-gram, whichever you prefer) to yourself.
  • Style your hair in a new way.
  • Pamper yourself — give yourself a facial, manicure, pedicure, the works!
  • Take yourself and your favorite book out to dinner one time this week. (This sounds bizarre, but it’s so fun! I love doing this!)
  • Sleep in at least one day this week.
  • Hang a picture of yourself in your favorite outfit in your cubicle, office, or bedroom.
  • Go. For. A. JOG.
  • Make an I’m More Awesome Than Anyone playlist and BLAST IT. (Artists on mine? Avril Lavigne, Paramore, and all kinds of other cheesy girl-rock. I am not ashamed.)
  • Buy a sexy, maybe even non-practical pair of underwear. Even if you’re the only one who sees it, dang girl! Work. (If you’re a dude, a shiny new pair of boxer briefs can probably help, too! Though I can’t be totally sure…)
  • Make cupcakes and share them with your favorite friends.
  • Buy fresh flowers and put them in your kitchen.
  • Fill in the blank with whatever you love to do.

The old adage is so true; if you can’t love yourself first, you’ll never truly (healthily, fully, wholly) love another. Start today by being your own Valentine.

How can you love yourself first today? Comment and let me know!

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tuesday tip — know your limits.

Hey! Remember me? That girl who used to write this self-love blog thing and then took a vacation to Chicago and consequently fell off the face of the planet?

I’m baaaack!

Back and broken, that is. We flew back home to Florida on Saturday, September 10th, and at 6:15 AM on Monday, September 12th, I was taken to the hospital to (finally!) have ACL reconstruction surgery. If that seems a bit crazy to you, to go on a week long vacation in another state and then fly back to IMMEDIATELY have surgery, you’re right. It is crazy. Looking back, I probably would have given myself more turnover time than just a day, but alas. It is done and over with.

Dan snapped this goody of me right before I was wheeled to the operating room.

Had I known that knee surgery is actually a pretty painful and debilitating, I probably would have said, “See y’all in TWO weeks” rather than one. But. I didn’t say that. I said I’d see you in a week. And since I don’t go back on my word, here I am, doped up on hydrocordone and benadryl (the painkillers make me itch like a madwoman) and blogging my life away. Woo! So here’s what I’ve been up to the past 48 hours.

Monday morning, right after that picture was taken, the nurses started sending saline solution into my body via the IV. I specifically asked them if I was being put under yet, because if I was, I wanted to shout my “anesthesia yell.” (This, I learned from my friend Zack, is a random and probably puzzling phrase one consciously yells as they are slipping into oblivion. I had chosen, “Steve Holt!” because Arrested Development needs to come back and I figured my anesthesia yell could get the ball rolling on that.) The nurses told me they weren’t giving me anesthesia yet, so I said, “Good, because I’m supposed to say something stupid.”

Well. The nurses lied to me, because the next thing I knew I was waking up in the recovery room.

Dang it, I realized. “I’m supposed to say something stupid” was ACTUALLY my anesthesia yell. How embarrassing.

At any rate, the next two days I called Hospital Room 610 my home. I slipped in and out of consciousness as the morphine drip swam through my veins. During the moments I was awake, I realized that I was completely and utterly dependent on others — the nurses, my mom, my husband — and I felt too vulnerable. Too weak. I felt like a burden, a big, helpless lump who was sucking life out of all those who set foot into my hospital room. I felt so bad for everyone around me (and I won’t even go into detail about what it feels like to have to use a bedpan and watch a sweet, pretty, kind nurse dump it out and clean you up. Mortifying.)

This morning, around 10:45AM, the physical therapy tech came into my room to show me the rehab exercises I needed to do each day in order to learn how to move around on my own again. We started small with me flexing and pointing my foot thirty times. Then, I slowly bent and straightened my knee thirty times. Then, I strained as I lifted my entire leg up into the air thirty times. Each exercise I was shown was more difficult (and painful) than the one before it, but before I knew it, I was limping down the hospital hallways and even climbing stairs. As I hobbled back into my hospital room after my physical therapy session, the tech turned to me and said, “Okay. You’re ready to go home now.”

“Wait,” I said. “I’m going to use the bathroom first!”

And I did. I used the bathroom all by myself for the first time in days. It was hard. It hurt a bit. But I was finally able to do it.

TODAY’S SELF-LOVE TIP: KNOW YOUR LIMITS

I couldn’t have done that myself. No way, no how. I had to surrender to my limits and rely on those around me.

If I would have hopped right out of bed (yeah right) and started jogging down the hall on my own, I would have seriously injured myself. (Or died. I’m just going to go ahead and say I would have died.) I had to swallow a giant dose of pride and let others take the lead on my physical health. I had to let nurses help me as I peed all over myself in my hospital bed, then clutch my PT tech as I limped down the hall before I could do something so elementary as using the bathroom by myself.  I had to literally lean on others who actually knew what they were doing before I could go home and face the world on my own using the techniques they had taught me.

Your self-love journey operates in the same way. When the anesthesia wears off and you realize that your “anesthesia yell” was something so embarrassing as, “I hate my body,” or “I wish I was someone else,” you’ve got to swallow your pride and learn to rely on others who love you and want to nurse you back to true health. These people may be close friends. They may be counselors. But whomever you choose to reach out to, as long as they’ve got your self-worth in the forefront of their minds, you can trust them to rehabilitate you. It may be messy — you may figuratively pee on yourself around them. You may have to hold on to them for dear life as you learn to walk again. But I promise you. If you let others help you, you will eventually be able to “go to the bathroom by yourself” (that is, truly love yourself) the way you used to before anyone — the media, an abusive significant other, whatever — told you otherwise.

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trying to be something you’re not is as stupid as peeing on yourself.

The first time I remember comparing myself to others and trying to change to be like them was a complete disaster.

I was around four or five years old. I grew up the only girl in my family, surrounded by a brother and endless boy cousins including my cousin and best friend Brian. Since Brian and I were so close in age and in relationship, we were practically joined at the hip. Everything was fine and good, except for one thing: Brian peed standing up. So did the rest of my cousins and my brother. I didn’t understand why I was trained to pee sitting down. Even though I was obviously an anatomical outsider, I hated feeling like I was different from Brian and the rest of my family members. I was convinced that even though everyone called me a girl, I could be a boy if I wanted to. All I had to do was pee standing up. Then I could be just like everyone else.

How hard could it be? I mean, it seemed pretty straight forward. So I marched into my mother’s bathroom, closed the door, pulled down my pants, faced the toilet, and went.

Needless to say, I missed, and I was devastated.

I tried over and over again to perfect this practice, but somehow I was physically incapable of successfully peeing in a standing position. I don’t remember who it was who reasoned with me. It could have been my mother, or my brother, or Brian, or one of my friends.  But when I voiced my frustration, they simply laughed and said, “Well, duh, Lindsay. Of course you can’t pee standing up. You’re a girl!”

And that’s when I gave up my efforts to turn into a boy. I accepted that I was a girl, albeit the only one in my family, and vowed to live life okay being different.

Me and Brian.

But the comparisons didn’t stop when I accepted my gender. As a matter of fact, they got worse.

I started comparing myself to my friends in school. Girls I didn’t even know. Girls on TV. Girls in books. If I was different from a girl I came in contact with I panicked and automatically assumed it was because I was ugly/wrong. If a friend of mine had brown hair, I’d wish my hair was brown. If a girl I knew had green eyes, I’d envy them. If someone was covered in freckles, I’d get upset over my lack of freckles.

This problem got really out of hand when a) I decided to get serious about dancing and b) I started dating boys.

The whole idea of competitive dancing is that you are rarely a soloist. More often than not, you are part of an ensemble, and you are to be completely in synch with and look just like your fellow dancers. As I went through puberty, this proved to be more and more impossible for me. I was the only one with a “fuller” figure and I was constantly berated for it. But, just like I thought I could turn into a boy if I just learned how to pee standing up, I figured I could transform my body into a ballerina’s if I really tried hard enough. So I dieted. I fasted. I cried. I hated my body for not looking the way the other dancers’ did. More than that, I hated that I was failing at changing myself. Therefore, I hated everything about myself.

My first serious boyfriend was a complete and utter douche bag. And that’s putting it lightly. He was mentally and sexually abusive and controlled everything about my life. After making my life a living hell for two and a half years I’ll never get back, he finally broke up with me after sleeping with one of my friends from school. My self-esteem was already null and void by this point, so I assumed that it was my fault that he cheated on me. The girl he slept with was taller than me, thinner than me, a brunette, had brown eyes, and had a personality as different from mine as night is from day. I assumed that because I wasn’t like her, I deserved to get cheated on. The next boyfriend I had wasn’t a douche bag at all, but at the end of our relationship he had developed feelings for another girl and even started pursuing a relationship with her. This time, I was convinced it was my fault he wasn’t interested anymore. So I did actively start trying to be like this other girl. I dressed like her. I talked like her. I acted like her. I even dyed my hair dark brown.

Barf.

The good news about all of that is that it’s in the past. Several years in the past, mind you. And since then, I’ve changed a lot. (I’ve seen a lot of therapists, too.) And, just like I accepted that I’m never going to be a boy, I’ve also accepted that I’ll never not be me. I’ll never not look like me. I’ll never not act like me. I’ll never be anyone else. But me.

However, unfortunately, being aware of the problem doesn’t make it go away. I still compare myself to others frequently. Usually, I compare myself to other women in their mid-20s. Who are wives. Who are artistic. Who are similar to me. It’s like I’m always in a competition with every other woman in this world. When I’m in the right frame of mind, I brush it off and remember that none of this dictates my worth. However, when I’m not thinking clearly, I can easily be beaten into a depression by my own thoughts.

Courtesy: Ashley Poole Photography

But I can’t possibly be the only one who does this, right? In a world currently housing 6 billion people, I can’t possibly be the only person who has ever fought this battle in his/her mind. Right?

I took to my Twitter/Facebook to ask my friends if they ever compared themselves to others concerning looks, life styles, personalities, or anything else:

“I compare myself to people by what other people’s opinion of them is.” – Nikki
“Definitely. I would say we all do in some form based on our need for assimilation. I think SES and morals are two of the biggest factors I use in comparison.” – Ally
“All of the above, mostly with my family members… It gets worse when you have kids, you start comparing them to other kids and yourself to their parents. It’s horrible!”
“I would say intellectually yes. Before it was grades. Now I base my intellectual comparisons on how open minded someone is… Oh and yes weight too. I do it with weight. I always wish my butt was smaller.” – Ali
“If I feel I have something in common with them I am more likely to examine them closely and compare myself to them in other ways such as weight, personality, spirituality, and fashion sense.” – Chantri
“I compare myself to everyone I think has it together more than I do and also any and all women [my boyfriend] Nick happens to have had feelings for or even thinks is interesting.” – Liz
“All of the above. Everyday.” – Magan
“I used to do that a lot In every area. Someone pointed out how unhealthy it is. It’s still a struggle, but I’m working on it.” – Rebekah

Not a single person said, “Nope. I don’t do this. I don’t know what you’re talking about, Lindsay. You be crazy.” Obviously this is something that needs to be addressed.

I think most of my friends who commented understand that This. Isn’t. Healthy. Comparing yourself to someone else will never lead you anywhere good. When you compete with others in your mind, there are two possible outcomes:

  1. You win, and you become conceited.
  2. You lose, and therefore become bitter and/or depressed.

That’s it. Really. Those are your options. Not very appealing, are they?

So. Where do we go from here?

You’ve got to become aware of the comparisons. I know that sometimes they happen so swiftly and automatically it’s as if you have no control over them. But you do. Once you notice your mood begin to dip because you’re not as X as her or as Y as him, immediately turn your thought process around. It’s not easy at first, but you need to commit to it. Like I said, I’m not perfect at it yet either. But, who doesn’t love a good rhyme? Memorize this (very true) quote by a very wise man (a doctor, you know) and say it to yourself each time you fall victim to the comparison trap:

 “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”
- Dr. Seuss

And if that doesn’t work, remember that trying to be something you’re not is just as stupid as peeing on yourself.

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