“This is the type of clothes I like, but I would never have the confidence to wear it.”
Naturally, my style has changed over time. Once, I used to wear lots of day dresses (even in winter) with my head-scarf styled in a way that clearly said she doesn’t know how to wrap a scarf. Then I wore sweater/jumper dresses and paired them up with colourful scarves. My shoes of choice were: boots in the winter, flats in the summer and converse type trainers during spring and autumn. I used to also wear faded green jeans with everything.
While at the time I thought I was doing fine, I do cringe a lot now. Seriously, where did my more shy-self find the confidence to leave home wearing four different colours? I do not know. I don’t hate myself for it. Maybe it was an external symbolism of the person I was back then. Or just bad decisions.
I am not fashionable, at all. But I really love certain styles and have a generic interest in fashion and makeup. I wouldn’t refer to myself as a particularly confident person but I can come off as more confident when needed. I was/am more insecure about my personality than my looks, but it varies between days. Some days the voices are so faint, they don’t even matter.
Sometimes, I can’t help but fantasize about having a more chiseled face, smaller and defined nose and ears, mouth and eyes without pigmentation around them, louder voice, extroverted personality etcetera etcetera. All that self-hating jazz. Ideal Western beauty standards we have been fed since birth. And I know, I am not the only one in this.
I am not going to say everyone is beautiful. Because beauty is subjective and it doesn’t define a person. Some features are more commonly approved of by the masses than others. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the epitome of beauty. We don’t find everyone we meet beautiful, for some of us, that include ourselves. But we do treat these people with the same respect and humanity we’d treat people we deem beautiful with. Except ourselves.
That’s where self-compassion come in practise. I could spew the I learned to love myself bullshit but let’s face it, all of us don’t. Should we try to? Absolutely. But we don’t need to torment ourselves if we find it difficult and an incredibly slow process, maybe even fruitless.
The thing about negative emotions is that they can be metastatic. Loathing one thing leads to loathing another thing and it spreads and affect our day to day lives. So, here’s my philosophy. I am aware this philosophy of mine may not work for all but I’ll share it anyways.
When I used to volunteer in a hospital, the lady who ran the kitchen once told me: “if I was young and pretty like you I’d never do this work.” Now, the reason why I remember this is because it makes me laugh. No matter what anyone tell you, it won’t change the beliefs you hold about yourself.
A lot of the times, I used to find myself wearing something and then taking it off and changing into something more ‘neutral’ before going out. The reason being my belief that I am too shy to be seen in that or my face is too unpleasant for me to feel confident enough to wear that.
The problem with that is, I’d buy clothes and then store it away for when I am more confident or when I can apply better makeup and so on and so forth. It’d slowly eat away at me because I knew, I am not going to wake up one day all confident with pigmentation free skin and altered features.
Don’t get me wrong, some days I do like what I see in the mirror. But it’s only reality that some days will be good and others won’t. And I’ve accepted that.
When we don’t like something about ourselves, we either change it (if possible) or accept it. When I feel that it’s societal pressure that makes me want to change these things about me, I don’t. So, I drop the negative thoughts by contradicting them with realistic thoughts. Of course, sometimes they will come back with full force but eventually I’ll remember the values I hold dear and go back to being myself.
About confidence, all I can say is; be patient and start small. I cannot stress the importance of little wins. Getting a job, doing well in exams, going on trips, gaining more independence, being able to consciously control anxiety are just some of the things that helped me build courage. For me, courage is confidence.
I’ve learned that I am my most confident when I am in a state of self acceptance. I hate saying this out loud: when I was a bit younger, I used to hate interacting with new people because I knew my body language revealed that I am a shy and introverted person. But I persisted and got out of my way to do things and develop life skills. Although, I made one crucial mistake.
I believed, if I gained enough skills it’d change my personality. But confidence is an expression of self acceptance; of being at ease with your flaws and all. Once I realised that there’s nothing wrong with being the way I am, I grew better. There’s this myth that if you accept yourself, so will everyone else. Yes, some people will, some won’t but it doesn’t matter.
Everyone is obsessed with themselves. If you still can’t find the courage to wear that item you’re thinking of remember this: no one actually cares. No one notices what anyone is wearing. Even if they do, they don’t care. We are all self obsessed to some degree. Some of us with the things that are supposedly wrong with us.
Time and time again, I’ve learned that no matter how superior someone acts they have insecurities too. So, don’t take things personally. Nine out of ten times, if someone is rude to you for no particular reason, it’s because of problems they have with themselves. Trust me, this is something I’ve witnessed repeatedly. Don’t fall in this trap that there are right ways to do subjective things. They are subjective for a reason.
One last thing, it is okay for you to feel down and hurt. It doesn’t mean you’re taking things personally. As human beings, we have feelings. Crazy, who’d have known?! But it’s what you do with that feeling that matters. If you are hurt for whatever reason, don’t focus on it. Because what you focus on grows. Instead, acknowledge it and practise self compassion. Use it as fuel to improve something about yourself. But don’t ever feel ashamed for being human.
As for the quote at the top, that is something my friend once told me while admiring this aztec-ish printed hoodie (the one in the featured image) from Cow Vintage I was wearing. She is taller than me and I prefer her face shape to mine. Did I mention, she has a smaller and cuter nose?