All Of the Things I Am Not – Leading With the Negative

There are countless things that I am not:

  • A good cook
  • Patient
  • Nurturing
  • Good with directions
  • Wealthy
  • Able to hide my emotions
  • A good housekeeper
  • Responsible with money

…the list goes on.  I recently found myself not only recounting all of the things I’m not to someone, but also focusing on them, in a negative way, in my own time.  What’s that about!?  That is not productive behavior and it is certainly not Owning It!

Yes, there are many things that I am not, and there are many things that I can’t do (I can’t slam dunk a basketball, I can’t bake a Martha Stewart worthy wedding cake, I can’t sculpt a masterpiece out of clay…) but who cares about that stuff?  Why am I not thinking about, and focusing on, all of the things that I AM?  I am a good friend, a caring person, a hard worker, strong, determined, successful, funny, honest, trustworthy…those are great qualities!  Why am I focusing on things like the fact that I can’t cook?  Why is that what I tell people?  Why do we so often lead with the negatives?

Let me ask you a question.  When someone pays you a compliment, what do you do? What is your first reaction?  Is it to shrug it off, downplay it, or deny it?  Be honest.  I know those are my first reactions.  “You look really nice in that dress, Annie.”  My response should be “Thank you!” but instead it’s an insecure look down, or in a mirror, and a shrug, an eye roll, and a comment about some insecurity, “Oh, it makes my hips look wide.”  Good god, why do so many of us do this?  Does this go back to the crazy beauty standards we see thrown at us every day?  Or is it that we don’t want to appear arrogant or conceited?  Either way, it’s messed up!  “You look really nice in that dress,” does NOT mean I should immediately compare myself to the model I saw wearing the dress in an ad.  Do I look like the model?  No.  Does that mean the dress doesn’t look nice on me?  NO.  Saying “Thank you,” to that compliment does not mean I’m conceited and think that I look better than anyone else.  It means that I took the time to choose this dress and put it on because at some point, I liked the way it felt and looked, and the fact that someone is acknowledging what I kind of already hoped to be true anyway should be met with gratitude, not self-deprecation.

Do you notice it when you talk to your friends?  Do you notice yourself dong it?  Do you notice your friends doing it?  How do you feel when you tell your friend she looks great and she rolls her eyes and says something negative?

Why do we lead with the negatives?  Why do we think that we should hide our confidence?  These are terrible habits that get in the way of each one of you being able to Own Your You.  Owning who you are and embracing who you are does not take away from anyone else.  So often we shortchange ourselves in order to make sure others have enough (any moms out there – you KNOW I’m talking to you!) but the rest of us often do it too.  It’s important to us that our friends and family have enough – enough whatever it is at that point in time – and so we sometimes hold back, take less, give more, etc. to ensure others are not wanting.  That’s ok, in moderation, but I believe that it flows over into things like this and starts affecting our confidence.

Have you ever heard, or said, something like “Yeah, I can do that, but Jess does it better,” or “Thanks, I do like this dress, but Sara’s really got the legs for it, not me.”  These are both examples of us trying to still give more to our friends and family.  Give more praise, give more credit…more something.  Maybe Sara does have legs that would look great in that dress, and maybe Jess does have skill at something that you also do, but does accepting compliments on YOUR stuff diminish them in any way?  No.  Does Jess do X any less well because you acknowledged that you did a good job at it?  No.  Do Sara’s legs look any less fantastic because you accepted a compliment on a dress that she isn’t even wearing?  NO!  Let’s stop this madness, friends.  We are all allowed to do well, be good at something, feel good about ourselves…this does not diminish or take away from anyone else around us.

Let’s break these habits.  Let’s tell the world about all of the things we ARE and all of the things we CAN do.  Let’s put on our favorite outfit and Own It!

Advertisements

Perfectly Imperfect – My Musings on Body Image and Beauty

Body image.  Ugh.  What a horrible topic.  But let’s just dive right in.  (oh, also, I’m back! Thanks to those of you who stuck around even though I haven’t posted in an embarrassingly long time!)

Body image has always been something I’ve struggled with.  It’s something that most women, (and men, too) I believe, struggle with.  It seems impossible NOT to struggle with this.  We’re bombarded each and every day with thousands of images of beauty and perfect and what we should aspire to.  (I know I’m only about the 4,103,381,193rd person to write about this topic, so I may not be saying anything new or earth-shattering – BUT I might say something that actually hits home with someone, and that’s why I’m going to continue with this topic.)

So, let’s just take a minute and look at the standards of beauty that we are supposed to a) believe are real and attainable and b) aspire to.  Perfectly toned EVERYthing; perfectly proportioned hips, waist, bust, neck, thighs, arms…; perfectly straight and gleaming white teeth; perfectly coiffed hair (sleek, curly, tousled…whatever the style, it’s got to be perfectly pulled off); perfectly sculpted chin, cheekbones, collar bones…; perfect, blemish-free skin.  And that’s just the start.

Now let’s take a look at who our role models for this level of attainable perfection are, who we can look to for guidance, support, advice on how to reach this perfect beauty.  Oh, wait…there is no one because that level of perfection is only attainable though artificial means.  Thank you, PhotoShop.

By now we’ve all seen multiple articles, memes, and videos of the lengths that people go to in order to project this image of perfection.  We all know that what we’re seeing isn’t real…but it LOOKS so real!  It’s insanely difficult to look at photos in magazines and NOT compare yourself to them.  I get it.  I do it!  I get frustrated with myself because I’m doing it…and I get frustrated with myself because I’m not attaining it!  How messed up is that?

Here’s what I’m doing to counter this epidemic of false beauty and poor body image for us “regular” women.  I’m no longer commenting on how pretty, skinny, etc. Celebrity X is.  I’m no longer looking at magazine photos as anything more than an advertisement for a product or a celebrity personality.  I am looking around me, and the real women I see in my daily life, and focusing on their beauty.  Their real-life, day-to-day imperfect perfection.  I’m talking about the women who live each day to the fullest: they get up each day and say, “I’ve got this.  Today is going to be.  And I’m going to live it.”

It doesn’t matter what today is going to be.  Not every day is perfect, not every day is a party…but every day IS.  And you don’t have to love everything about every day, but you do have to live it.

I’m talking about the women who MAKE each day one they want to live.  They have a love, a passion, a goal.  They have hobbies and friends and family who bring them joy.  I’m talking about the women who may not get to the gym as often as they’d like, they may have baby food in their hair at noon, or they may be in a stressful board meeting at dinner time, but when girls’ night comes, they throw on their Spanx and their LBD and they OWN IT.  They MAKE their lives what they want them to be, and they are happy.   And that’s where their beauty comes from.

Beauty comes from living a life you love, surrounding yourself with love and positive energy, and exuding joy.  Those are the women I look up to.  Those are my role models for beauty.

Those are the women who should inspire us, those are the women we should look to as role models.  I’d like this to be the beauty we all strive for.  We are all beautiful.  YOU. ARE. BEAUTIFUL.  I’d like to challenge each of you to find at least one real person each day who you find beautiful…whatever defines beauty for you – courage, kindness, generosity, etc. and focus on that for a few minutes.  You can tell the woman you think she’s beautiful if you want, but you don’t have to.  This isn’t a challenge to put anyone in an awkward social situation or to be creepy, but it’s a challenge to redirect your ideas of beauty and perfection.

Imperfectly perfect.  That’s what we all are.  Part of my journey has been to accept that.  It’s time to own it.  It’s time to Own Your You.

My First Post! (What am I getting myself into?)

What is Own Your You about?

Own Your You is a place where people can go for guidance in finding their true selves.

We spend our whole lives thinking about what we should do.  What we shouldn’t do.  What is expected.  And very little time really focusing on what we actually want/don’t want/feel/like…and then even when we do know we want/don’t want something, we’re afraid to go for it because maybe it’s not what’s expected.  So Own Your You is about being yourself and owning it.  Fearlessly.  Peacefully.  Honestly.  It’s a place to ask questions, exchange ideas, to start to be comfortable “owning” who you really are, and to make sure you are on the path you want to be on.