Hard truth: recently I’ve been struggling in a muck of self doubt in the confidence department. Remember Atreyu dragging himself through the Swamp of Sadness in The Neverending Story? (RIP Artax.) Like that, but with body stuff—my athletic ability, my direction, and insecurity’s all-time greatest hit: my appearance.
I still see all the tricks of living in the diet Matrix. All of the confidence and self love I’ve wrested from the claws of bullshit diet culture is mine to keep. But lately, there’s been a new, harrowing motto: but you could be so much more.
You’re a runner BUT you could be faster.
You’re fine as you are BUT it wouldn’t hurt to just be a few sizes smaller…
You’re cute, BUT don’t you wish you looked more like…?
This is hard to admit—not only to myself, but maybe to world at large. After all, confidence is respected, coveted, and has been declared the secret ingredient to being attractive in every Cosmo survey I ever read growing up. That’s the promise, right? If you’re confident, funny, and memorize their top 200 new spicy sex tricks by heart, the world is yours to conquer.
Inviting in the vampires
Declaring you’re having a stint of bad confidence is not something confident people tend to do. In the more progressive or body positive parts of the fitness community, people talk a lot about how they used to feel and brush over anything to the contrary with a zippy “some days are harder than others!”
I get it. Saying you don’t love your everything 24/7 kinda feels like opening the door to vampires—life-sucking doubts that just might make people suddenly see you the way you fear you are. So when you suddenly find yourself in a very real den of monstrous insecurities, the impulse to pretend nothing is wrong is strong.
The Art of Re-Traumatizing Yourself
This has been going on for weeks. Maybe even a month or two—feeling not good enough, like the marathon I ran and the training I do doesn’t mean anything. Maybe it started when I was weighed at the doctor’s office, and then measured during a personal training assessment at my gym in the same two week span not long ago.
Maybe it’s this year’s choral refrain of “bathing suit SZN” beginning to swell over the other social media noise. I’m not sure.
I’ve ignored it because I thought that if I just kept doing what I do, the whispers would go away—but they haven’t.
For awhile I couldn’t figure out why the proverbial blood just kept draining—until I listened to an episode of Food Psych about marketing and diet culture. It brought up the notion that if you’re branding yourself as someone who has overcome your trauma—that also means you may relive it every time you use it to make a point.
You run the risk of resurrecting your demons when you try to make their skeletons work for you.
I don’t think I’ve made a point of discussing solely body image on my Instagram or here on the blog. I intentionally stay sports-focused. BUT I do know that engaging with body positive content, Health At Every Size activism, and other facets of this work mean I’m thinking about it ALL. THE. TIME.
Any choice I can make seems to be plagued with “this is against diet culture” and “this conforms with diet culture.” Eating, sleeping, dressing, moving—these filters can shade everything I do.
Ain’t it strange that sometimes, on a mission to embrace ourselves, shit gets worse before it gets better?
WTF Comes Next?
The point of this post, at the end of the day, is to assure anyone else who might be feeling this way that it’s OKAY to not be a self love unicorn 24/7.
The goal is to aim for WAY more good days than bad ones, and taking care of yourself even on the days when you don’t like yourself. For me, this looks like a mix of movement (hellooo trail running!), nourishment, and vetting what media I take in and when. If I’m having a bad day, I might skip out on that article or podcast until I have another one where I’m angry and ready to engage.
I keep on going—not because I could be better. But because it’s the best way to remind myself that I’m already enough.