Self esteem as a choice.
Self-esteem was sometimes watching my mind dance its mean dance when I looked in the mirror of mall dressing rooms, how I could see it picking out flaws, and how I learned to tell it to seriously shut the fuck up, ’cause that belittling voice was a supreme bore and I grew to have no patience for it.
It was coming to know deeply that my negative body image messages weren’t actually mine, could never be mine, and that I don’t accept them as my fate.
Self-esteem and positive body image came from making a choice to have a divine discipline of shit-that-makes-me-feel-good. It was learning to sleep, eat well for ME, exercise, take deep breaths, engage in meaningful connections with other humans, and take quiet time NO MATTER WHAT, no matter how I felt in my skin, no matter what time of the month or day it was.
At first, it came from making food choices every day that I liked and that I felt proud of. It came from eating mostly vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, and fun fats like avocado most of the time. Then it came from having ice cream on a hot summer day, because it was vegan, and because the cone was gluten-free, and because I wanted it with no need for justification.
My self-esteem relates to my food, but as I grew and dove deeper into it I realized that true and deep self-esteem can’t come from what I eat. I eat well because I have self-esteem, but I do not gain real self-esteem from eating well.
Self-esteem is learning to enjoy my own company, cracking myself the fuck up, because I just GET me like no one else. It is opening myself up to being cracked up by others too. It is keeping my autonomy in crowds and groups and feeling connected regardless.
My self-esteem is a daily decision.
It comes from the knowledge that I am not immune to bad body image or low self-esteem days, and doing my due diligence to strengthen myself for when those days arrive.
My positive body image is not something I was born with, nor is it something I was taught, or even something that I witness in my day to day interactions very often.
It is not a privilege I was handed.
My self-esteem is a responsibility I totally choose to take.
(*These thoughts are not designed to make ANYONE ever feel bad. I did not make the choice to gain self-esteem until I could no longer stand the effects of not having it anymore. I am confidant that all other people can do the same. I write these words because I believe in people, not to belittle them.)
Drawing by the beautiful Joanna S. Quigley!