motivational monday.

Monday, June 25, 2012

This is a longer than usual motivational monday. Insecurity affects so many women at my age and younger and I felt compelled to share my story (despite how naked it makes me feel) and how I learned to get past it to help anyone else going through something similar. Insecurity can best be described as a brain tumor that eats you alive slowly, painfully, and most of the time with no logic whatsoever. It can bring the strongest people in the world to their knees and turn the best people into envious monsters. It took a bite out of me a short while ago that still hasn't entirely grown back. But it did grow back, nonetheless. Here's my story:

As a girl I think that it is (unfortunately) in our genes to be insecure. We are in a universe where we are told, almost daily, that we are not good enough. Up until a short while ago all this hullaballoo about outer appearance and 6-packs was all noise to me. I never paid attention to it as I got into my teens and whoever felt the need to target me directly on a living-in-sweats/bun head/no makeup day would be told to take a very long walk off of a very short cliff (in not so nice terms). I could barely see 10 feet in front of me, let alone myself in the mirror and I, truthfully, didn't care enough to even look in it half the time. Somewhere in between confident and insecure I lay, sometimes putting effort, and sometimes not giving a crap what I looked like. I guess that comes with eating and sitting like a guy, having a boyfriend for 8 years, & a usually positive mentality about life. 

However, toward the end of my last semester of college things started to get... pretty bad. Did you ever have those moments when everything gets bad at once? This was one of those times, only add complete and utter hopelessness on top of it and you had me. 

Out of nowhere, about a month or two ago, I had started considering myself a permanent resident of hot ugly mess central. And let's be serious here, after a while, when you're run down, partaking in 12 hour school days, pulling all-nighters to get stuff in done in time, and snoozing until you literally need to run out the door to get where you need to be on time, ugly is a little hard to avoid and hot mess territory starts to feel like a very, very comfortable place to live in. The idea of makeup goes out the window when that means sleeping an extra 10-15 minutes before getting ready for class, forget picking out clothes that are fashionable when you're on campus for hours on end sitting in freezing cold libraries, uncomfortable chairs, & running in between classes. And dare I confess to wearing my boyfriend's clothes to the store simply because I had forgotten to actually pack my weekend bag properly before I ran out the door (did I just kill my 'fashion blog' consideration with that sentence?). But, out of right field, I started feeling really bad about it. And while this would ususally be a "give yourself a break and get yourself together Corinne!" that was running through my head, it was a "you are ugly and you just realized about 4 years too late."

Let's just say, when you're low, your mind flashes back to many a time when you were a mess in pigtails next to the 2% of your college population that is next to model status (and around your boyfriend 99% of the time, no less). And so, one day, with my low down, warped view, I looked in the mirror. Really looked. And I might as well have been looking at the Crypt Keeper. Suddenly, I felt ugly and unworthy and unattractive and unintelligent and a mess. Why wasn't I as tall and model-esque skinny like the other girls? Why wasn't I sexy? Why couldn't I roll out of bed and be drop dead gorgeous without even trying? Well, my brain told me, because you never can be. And who would you want to look at you everyday when you look like this? Suddenly all of those people who had every said anything untrue about me and the society I never paid attention to became the citations in my brain, the go-to's for the truth, the epitome of what I should be but never can be. And I actually got so inside of my own head that, for the first time in my life, I actually believed it. I sat there and festered all by myself, with the feeling that any moment my boyfriend was going to look at me and go, "I'm breaking up with you because I just don't want to deal with you anymore. I can do better, prettier, and smarter." I can honestly say that for the first time in my life, I was jealous. Jealous of every drop dead gorgeous being who made sweatpants look good. Who didn't have to try to be perfect (yeap, perfect actually existed to me logically). But I was in some dark hole, all alone, with only my brain and low self esteem, which may as well have been gasoline and a match at a time like this.

I can honestly say that, before this entire incident, I had never felt like this before. Ever. Me? Jealous? Self-loathing? Shallow? Entirely hopeless? Stuck in my head? I had no idea what to do. So I did what every other self loathing, hopeless person does: cry my freaking eyes out. And finally, I hit the bottom. And just when I though I had fixed everything-- my insecurities, my downright insanity, hit me like a ton of bricks again. Sometimes one's mind is a lot more powerful than it seems. That unwavering drive that I had once used to lift myself up was plumetting me into the ground harder than ever, and by this time I was tapped out. I got to the point where nothing that anyone said to me could convince me otherwise. I was ugly inside and out, unworthy of anyone's love/friendship/you name it, and a total and complete failure because of it. Everyone around me may as well have just talked to a wall because my thoughts did not budge. It took quite some time, lots of talking it out (despite feeling like a total crazy person while doing it), and a little time away from everything and everyone for me to get past my self esteem problem, or at least gain back a little bit of that fiery confidence and stability I used to possess. 

Here's what I've learned:

1. Sometimes you are your own worst enemy. 
Despite the fact that the wheels turning in my head spoke in the voices of most of the negative people in my life, at the end of the day, it was ME who was fueling the flames. After constant fighting and rainy days that just won't let up, sadness and unhappiness can feel inevitable. Trust me, they aren't! The sunshine will come out! Never forget how far you've gotten-- you can get past this!

2. Take a vacation.
Sometimes you need to step back, realize what the hell is going on, and put your head back on straight. Lucky for me, just when things were hitting their ultimate peak (literally days after my final breakdown), I had a lovely retreat with my best friend, Diana, to D.C. There, with the help of some time away from everyone and everything that was bringing me down, I was able to talk it out (nothing beats an amazing talk with a friend to just get everything off of your chest), reassess what the hell was going on in my life (& in my head), take a little bit of a breather & relax, and go back rejuvinated with a proper outlook on things. If you aren't lucky enough to literally get away from everyone, set a part a few hours or a day a week away from everyone. Go to the library, to the park-- anywhere that you can be with your thoughts, and ask a friend to come along to. When I was going through this mess I was very into holding things in (something very uncharacteristic of me), but everything seemed to make sense when I said all of my feelings out loud to someone that I trusted. It may make you cringe at first, but I promise that by the end you will be feeling loads better knowing you talked it out and aren't getting through it alone. Just the act of releasing my feelings, no matter how crazy they were, made me feel that the mental hold they had on me was no longer there and that I didn't have to be figuring it all out on my own. 
But I'm not going to lie, even after returning and preparing myself for the usual stuff I had to deal with and the expected stressors, I still stumbled a little on my new mental support system. It takes time and personal strength to get yourself back. 

3. Happiness and confidence are both inside jobs. 

I used to read the quote "happiness is an inside job" all the time & roll my eyes. Clearly they did not have a Starbucks, a boyfriend or any good friends around! After this debacle, I get it. 
No one in the entire world, not my boyfriend nor my best friends, could change my negative thoughts into positive ones when my confidence was in the toilet. My mind would take any kind words and change them from sincere to "you HAVE to say that, you're my friend/boyfriend/family." I had to actually believe it. I had to believe that I was pretty. I had to believe that I was smart. I had to believe that I was good enough. And boy was it hard. I had gotten to know the cracks in the pavement so, so well when I was down at rock bottom that it felt as if it took centuries, years even, to stand-- and, sometimes, I can feel myself limping along every once and a while these days. But I did it. I got up. I stood on my own 2 feet. And I did it all with my own personal strength. 

4. You ARE good enough.
It may not seem like it now, when you are all wrapped up in your own head. When you feel like you're at the bottom-most place on the totem pole. When you can't look at yourself in the mirror. When the genius bombshell is standing next to your boyfriend. When you feel like you don't belong in your class because you aren't as knowledgeable as everyone else there. 
YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH. You made it this far, you got to this place in your life through hard work and dedication and have done so much better than millions of other people. When you're in class and feel like an outsider, remember that you got there the same way they did. Everyone has their own life that you don't have a clue about (so comparison is really untrue in all respects). And never, ever mistake beauty for goodness. Your goodness is goodness. And it's the internally ugly people who never questions their worth. 

Take it from me, it'll take time, it'll take a lot of fighting, but one day you will realize how amazing you truly are. That the compliments people say to you are true. That you really are as smart and beautiful and amazing as I know you to be. Little by little you'll realize the good, amazing person you are. And one day that insecurity will just melt away and you'll finally realize:

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