The arduous road to actually liking myself.

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 shirt: madewell // pants: zara // bag: kate spade saturday // shoes: vans via madewell

I’m sitting on a crowded train when I observe a man tapping his cane and singing with the kind of gusto fit for Broadway. To him the rest of us don’t exist. In his mind he’s just enjoying his favorite song, doing what we all wished we had the courage to do—sing loud and out of key and out of mind of our judgement. His oblivious bravado puts us in a state of amused discomfort. Some of us look on bemusedly, others record the display of don’t-give-a-sh** on our smartphones, and the rest of us sigh silently out of relief that this stranger has so graciously stolen the spotlight. I’m tempted to laugh out of nervousness; you know the laugh I’m talking about. The one we use when we want to say “Don’t worry everyone. I think this is totally weird and awkward, too, but I wanted to let you know by acknowledging my discomfort that I am, in fact, still as sane as the rest of you…”

But I decide against it, opting rather to observe with secret admiration. How he turns familiar public etiquette on its head to sing like we all do privately in the shower—I can’t help but envy that. I can’t help but respect how much he truly doesn’t care about what the people surrounding him think.

I can’t help but wish I could shamelessly take complete charge of a moment in my life the way this man does so naturally.

I personally shift constantly between feeling inadequate to feeling entitled. And every day I regard those dwelling in the proverbial “Land of Contentment” with envy and earnest curiosity, trying to learn the route they took to get there but it eludes me. Maybe it’s because my only companion is myself and I can’t pay attention to my road ahead of me when I’m spying on someone else’s. I get it; it’s unhealthy but we all do it. right? RIGHT?!

Lately I’ve been internally cataloging the things that make me happy, specifically things that make me happy outside of the approval of other people (because lets be real here, who hasn’t gotten into the trap of doing/documenting things based on it’s potential instagram-likitude?). I’ve been asking myself the difficult questions, while begging myself to be more understanding of my shortcomings. Not only does this present a challenge because I’m my own harshest critic, but I also guard myself behind a wall of self-analysis to find my flaws before anyone else does in order to fit in and avoid potential rejection. There’s a certain courtesy, a sense of polite shame I think many of us feel for not immediately having an insecurity on hand when shown a picture of ourselves. Do you know what I’m talking about? As if deep down we humans instinctively NEED to acknowledge the gross shape of our bodies, how weird and uncontrollable our hair is, or how we loathe the way our arms don’t look smooth and firm the way we want them to. I’ve been trying to not fall into this trap as often, but frankly it’s bloody hard.

However I’ve been taking solace in more than a few sweet victories that I can claim lately. Like how, for the first time in my life, I sort of feel more comfortable with my natural curls than with my hair styled; I’ll even straighten it for one day and start to miss the typical out-of-controlness that I’ve so stubbornly despised in the past. Some mornings I’ll look in the mirror and pretend I’ve never seen the person facing me before in my life, that I’m meeting her for the first time. In these moments I won’t list all the things that need to be fixed about her before I step out of sight. I allow myself to check her out instead. From my observations my list becomes a running log of the reasons this stranger on the other side of the mirror is actually kind of a babe. And I’m learning how this girl with chaotic hair and burgeoning self-love can summon her inner train car singer and progress slowly but confidently to Contentment. But what makes everything easier is the realization that Contentment isn’t some place that I need to find or earn passage into, but a place where I already belong.

(shout out to Tonya for taking these pictures)

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31 comments

  1. This is beautiful! You're beautiful. Thank you for sharing such a lovely perspective on self love and discovery. I might be slightly obsessed with you…and by "slightly" I mean entirely. 🙂

  2. This is beautiful! You're beautiful. Thank you for sharing such a lovely perspective on self love and discovery. I might be slightly obsessed with you…and by "slightly" I mean entirely. 🙂

  3. Yes to so much of this. Everyone talks about how important it is to love yourself, that I think we forget how hard it is sometimes. I'm right there with ya. Keep fighting! We're all in this together.

  4. Yes to so much of this. Everyone talks about how important it is to love yourself, that I think we forget how hard it is sometimes. I'm right there with ya. Keep fighting! We're all in this together.

  5. So much of what you said (if not all of it!) is what runs through my head on a near constant basis. Perfection and imperfection are such interesting concepts to think about. On one hand, striving for perfection will only lead to disappointment and lack of self-acceptance. No one and nothing is meant to be absolutely free of imperfection. On the other hand, isn't there something to be said for change and a continual desire to be more than you already are? While accepting your current state is commendable, there is always room to push for something better; that want for something else is what keeps live from being static and boring. There's some sort of balance that has to be struck between perfection and imperfection, acceptance and rejection. In a way, we sort of need to tear ourselves down a tiny bit in order to rebuild ourselves and then continue moving forward.

    It's nice to hear that you're learning to love yourself and all the tiny pieces that make you up. I wholeheartedly agree with your concluding sentiments–Contentment is somewhere you (and everyone else) belongs!

    P.S. This seems so shallow to share but I think your hair is pretty rad, in all of its natural glory! 🙂

  6. So much of what you said (if not all of it!) is what runs through my head on a near constant basis. Perfection and imperfection are such interesting concepts to think about. On one hand, striving for perfection will only lead to disappointment and lack of self-acceptance. No one and nothing is meant to be absolutely free of imperfection. On the other hand, isn't there something to be said for change and a continual desire to be more than you already are? While accepting your current state is commendable, there is always room to push for something better; that want for something else is what keeps live from being static and boring. There's some sort of balance that has to be struck between perfection and imperfection, acceptance and rejection. In a way, we sort of need to tear ourselves down a tiny bit in order to rebuild ourselves and then continue moving forward.

    It's nice to hear that you're learning to love yourself and all the tiny pieces that make you up. I wholeheartedly agree with your concluding sentiments–Contentment is somewhere you (and everyone else) belongs!

    P.S. This seems so shallow to share but I think your hair is pretty rad, in all of its natural glory! 🙂

  7. So much of what you said (if not all of it!) is what runs through my head on a near constant basis. Perfection and imperfection are such interesting concepts to think about. On one hand, striving for perfection will only lead to disappointment and lack of self-acceptance. No one and nothing is meant to be absolutely free of imperfection. On the other hand, isn't there something to be said for change and a continual desire to be more than you already are? While accepting your current state is commendable, there is always room to push for something better; that want for something else is what keeps live from being static and boring. There's some sort of balance that has to be struck between perfection and imperfection, acceptance and rejection. In a way, we sort of need to tear ourselves down a tiny bit in order to rebuild ourselves and then continue moving forward.

    It's nice to hear that you're learning to love yourself and all the tiny pieces that make you up. I wholeheartedly agree with your concluding sentiments–Contentment is somewhere you (and everyone else) belongs!

    P.S. This seems so shallow to share but I think your hair is pretty rad, in all of its natural glory! 🙂

  8. So much of what you said (if not all of it!) is what runs through my head on a near constant basis. Perfection and imperfection are such interesting concepts to think about. On one hand, striving for perfection will only lead to disappointment and lack of self-acceptance. No one and nothing is meant to be absolutely free of imperfection. On the other hand, isn't there something to be said for change and a continual desire to be more than you already are? While accepting your current state is commendable, there is always room to push for something better; that want for something else is what keeps live from being static and boring. There's some sort of balance that has to be struck between perfection and imperfection, acceptance and rejection. In a way, we sort of need to tear ourselves down a tiny bit in order to rebuild ourselves and then continue moving forward.

    It's nice to hear that you're learning to love yourself and all the tiny pieces that make you up. I wholeheartedly agree with your concluding sentiments–Contentment is somewhere you (and everyone else) belongs!

    P.S. This seems so shallow to share but I think your hair is pretty rad, in all of its natural glory! 🙂

  9. SO on point. Swinging in between feeling inadequate and entitled is such an emotional/confusing rollercoaster. Sounds like you're figuring out how to navigate and inspire people at the same time (which is so so very important and admirable!). Thanks for the encouraging post!

  10. SO on point. Swinging in between feeling inadequate and entitled is such an emotional/confusing rollercoaster. Sounds like you're figuring out how to navigate and inspire people at the same time (which is so so very important and admirable!). Thanks for the encouraging post!

  11. SO on point. Swinging in between feeling inadequate and entitled is such an emotional/confusing rollercoaster. Sounds like you're figuring out how to navigate and inspire people at the same time (which is so so very important and admirable!). Thanks for the encouraging post!

  12. Sweet girl, I love the thoughts and emotions behind these and in front of these words. I especially thought long on the thought of first impressions and meeting myself and others for the first time. You gave me much to ponder and reflect on. You are and always will be fabulous.

  13. Sweet girl, I love the thoughts and emotions behind these and in front of these words. I especially thought long on the thought of first impressions and meeting myself and others for the first time. You gave me much to ponder and reflect on. You are and always will be fabulous.

  14. Sweet girl, I love the thoughts and emotions behind these and in front of these words. I especially thought long on the thought of first impressions and meeting myself and others for the first time. You gave me much to ponder and reflect on. You are and always will be fabulous.

  15. Sweet girl, I love the thoughts and emotions behind these and in front of these words. I especially thought long on the thought of first impressions and meeting myself and others for the first time. You gave me much to ponder and reflect on. You are and always will be fabulous.

  16. srsly. you're my blogging hero, and perhaps my real life hero. i haven't been on the blogland for awhile and i'm thoroughly enjoying going thru your blog and catching up on it. your hair omg. teach me to make my natural big curly hair to look gooood!

    your writing hits a sensitive spot tho. i do the same thing every.single.day. always finding the flaws in myself before anyone else sees them. then i become obsessive with finding ways to solve all these problems with myself before someone will notice.

    also this is so good: Contentment isn’t some place that I need to find or earn passage into, but a place where I already belong.

    xo

  17. srsly. you're my blogging hero, and perhaps my real life hero. i haven't been on the blogland for awhile and i'm thoroughly enjoying going thru your blog and catching up on it. your hair omg. teach me to make my natural big curly hair to look gooood!

    your writing hits a sensitive spot tho. i do the same thing every.single.day. always finding the flaws in myself before anyone else sees them. then i become obsessive with finding ways to solve all these problems with myself before someone will notice.

    also this is so good: Contentment isn’t some place that I need to find or earn passage into, but a place where I already belong.

    xo

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