Being comfortable in your own skin is something that has been a problem for me over the years. With all of the body alterations I have been through, it has been very difficult for me to look in the mirror and recognize the person looking back at me. My friend, Amanda, wrote an amazing blog post about the loss of identity that comes with being sick for many years (http://stopthinkingstartwriting.blogspot.com/2012/09/who-is-that-girl.html). Both her post coupled with the fact that tomorrow is World Ostomy Day has led me to believe that this would be a good topic for me to talk about today.
Some people are born innately confident. Some people we all know were born a little too confident. And, of course, many people suffer from low self-esteem for various reasons. But, most of us lie somewhere in the middle. Situations and circumstances definitely affect our confidence level. We are more comfortable with ourselves when we are around people we know, and are in situations that are not anxiety provoking. If you are teaching a class, or even taking a class, I know I was always much more comfortable in those classes where I knew what I was talking about. I always felt very comfortable with myself in sociology/anthropology and psychology classes. However, in science and math classes, I would always second guess myself because I wasn’t confident in my knowledge of the subjects.
Being able to be comfortable in your own skin, and take pride in the person you are can sometimes be very challenging and take a lot of work. It can often take time and force you to really look deep inside yourself which can be very painful. When someone is at the point where they can honestly say that they are okay with who they are, with where they are in life, with their relationships, with their careers, etc than it is then and really only then are we able to put our best foot forward. It is really only until we have reached a point in accepting who we are that we can begin to look at life a little differently. When we are okay with ourselves, the world looks better. We find opportunities where we might not have thought to look. Life just is easier when you accept yourself completely.
While this concept of accepting yourself completely might sound great, it is something that I have certainly struggled with and continue to today. I think we all have whether we want to admit it or not. Often times, it is because of situations out of our control that make a person go from being confident and accepting of who they are to doubting themselves and/or their appearance. Ulcerative colitis and the many, many surgeries and procedures I have been through have forced me to not recognize who myself. I was doing things and thinking about life in ways that I never imagined I would. Prior to getting sick, I was a very happy, positive person with an amazing outlook on life. The sky was the limit in my mind before the age of 13. Then, as my body went through more and more changes, as I looked differently every month due to the weight fluctuations I have referred to in previous posts, I began to feel like my soul was slowly dying or being buried under all of the negative things that were going on in my life. It was one of the worst feelings I have ever experienced and as you can probably tell by what I have written on this blog, I have had lots and lots of feelings over the years.
Tomorrow is world ostomy day and a wonderful time to really think about what is important in life and what may be some of the things that are holding you back. While having an ostomy is probably not what is affecting you, I just like to look at it as a reflection day because oftentimes we are dissatisfied with ourselves for reasons that don’t actually matter in the scheme of things. I think it is important for all of us to take a deep breath and really think about our life and who we are. There may be some changes you feel you need to make. There may be some things you feel you are having a difficult time accepting and therefore, it is affecting how you feel about yourself. There are so many things to think about but whatever is holding you back from being comfortable in your own skin should be really looked into. And like I mentioned earlier, it takes time and work but I promise you, it will be worth it.
“You are only at your absolute best when you can be completely and utterly yourself.”-unknown