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For as long as I can remember, I have battled with my body. I was always taller and bigger than everyone else and developed far faster than my peers. I recall the sense of distress and utter hopelessness I would feel every time I’d be forced in the same room as those who fitted the mold of “normal”. I was always the best friend and never the girlfriend, the fun one who always brought the laughter without ever really being part of the fun. I fought through it all, pushing down the feelings of inferiority and hanging onto the fact that people liked me for how funny I was or because I always brought the party. At first it took every part of me, both emotionally and physically, to keep up the façade of confidence and shut out any negative thoughts related to my body, but as I got older, it became second nature. I found a way to completely close off the part of me that dealt with my body, trapping all the negative self-talk and hurt emotions in a tiny black box that I stored in the back of my mind.
On paper, this seemed like the best plan. If I shutout all the negativity that came with being fat I would be able to make it through the sneers and stares without breaking a sweat. I had become an emotionally unstable child, putting on this over the top positive happy-go-lucky attitude in order to combat the serious feelings of worthlessness that plagued that little black box. I won’t lie, this approach got me through most of my young life and helped me to make friends in the new countries I would find myself living in every few years growing up. I always let fun Inemesit take the lead, trying to somehow gain the friendship of others before they realized how fat I was, as if that would deter them from saying a word to me. I immersed myself in every sport team, running track, playing field hockey, and swimming until I literally could not breath, just to prove to those around me that I was just fat, not unhealthy. But as much as I tried, I was always the fat friend, the girl the guys would talk to about their crushes, the one who would fake sick to miss out on a pool party because I didn’t have it in me to fake it anymore.
My journey to loving my body has taken me a good part of my 23 years of life. Looking back, these early memories still haunt me. I still feel the same overwhelming sense of “omg, will they like me enough or am I too fat to even be considered as cool” when I get introduced to new people. I still hold the ability to push things aside and fight the good fight, but I am working on actually riding the roller-coaster of feelings that come with each double take or snicker that comes my way. When I first started my blog, the amount of messages I received discussing how brave I was or how my high level of confidence would help others was unreal. I had people who I hadn’t even thought about in years telling me that my personal fight to regain my love for my body was awe inspiring. To be honest, all these messages did only one thing – they made me feel like a fraud. How could I, the girl who still cringed at the thought of swimsuit shopping, inspire others? I felt cornered into a lie, preaching body positivity without really knowing what that meant. Even to this day, I will still sit in a dark room and refresh my Instagram over an over again after posting a picture because I am terrified that someone will tear my picture apart.
But at 23 and at a time in my life where loving myself has become so integral, Bare Introspection is my way of healing. It is my way of telling myself that it’s okay to have bad days where I don’t want to be seen in public as long as I embrace those feelings without locking them away. It is my way of openly admitting some very hard truths to myself in hopes that others will find the strength to do the same. But most importantly, Bare Introspection is my way of apologizing to my young self for shying away from my body and not growing to love it until now. The mere thought that such personal thoughts and feelings are being publically shared brings me close to tears. As I write this, my biggest fear is that I will be seen as weak, that the façade of confidence that I have spent my life building will be so openly removed. I am afraid that I will no longer be considered strong or brave and that my weaknesses will be made overly accessible. These things could all potentially happen and that’s a truth that I have to face. It is my ability to do so that will be my biggest victory. I deserve to be happy and I am taking little steps each day to do so.