Self-perception vs. reality.
Photo by Elena Berridy
Is there ever a point where you ever feel 100% comfortable with yourself, a point where your self-perception changes to fit reality, in a good way?
A bit of backstory: I was a happy, athletic child who was hit hard by puberty. As a teenager, I suffered from depression, gained quite a lot of weight and used food to self-medicate. I was in a better place during university, as I was forced to walk everywhere, be social and make better food choices. My physical self changed, but my emotional self did not.
There is something about your self-perception vs. the way others perceive you and the reality of who you are. In my mind, I still see myself as an awkward, dumpy 17 year old girl and occasionally get a surprise when I walk past my reflection and see a strong 35 year old (often carrying a toddler!) woman striding past. Strange. Is it another form of imposter syndrome, where your beliefs about your strengths and weaknesses are misaligned with how good you actually are, what you’ve actually achieved?
Many women talk about being more comfortable with themselves in their thirties than in their twenties, and getting even more comfortable in their forties than in their thirties. And so on. (Here’s a great article from India Knight where she says stop worrying and start enjoying! More of this in her fabulous book, In Your Prime)
From my perspective, there is a lot of truth in this. I feel more comfortable with myself than I ever have and would never want to return to my twenties or teenaged self. I know my own mind, what I can tolerate and what I can’t. What I like and what I don’t. What I’m willing to try and what my red lines are. I know things are not black and white and that some things just take time. Some of this has come with time and maturity and some of this comfort has come from motherhood – the broken sleep, the initial hard graft of breastfeeding and the many moments of just waiting (still waiting for the sleeping through the night!). Knowing that I don’t have the time or even the energy to indulge in the constant cycle of negative self-talk. And yet, in those quiet moments, the negative self-talk is still there.
Life’s too short. It sounds trite, but it’s true. It’s annoying to think of all the time and brain power, I’ve dedicated to thinking about how I hate my stomach (the only body part I’m not 100% comfortable with). What a waste of time, when I think about all the things I want to do and what I want to achieve.