I’m not a good definition for “self-confidence.” In fact, I’m quite the opposite. “Self-conscious” would be a better term to describe me.
I was an introverted child, to a fault. It hindered me in many social and life situations. I didn’t speak unless spoken to, I didn’t dare raise my hand in class and being asked to read aloud was about as traumatic as being chased by a pack of rabid wolves. Especially in first grade, when we were learning to read and I just…couldn’t…it came to me, but not without frustration. And once, I got it (which only took one night, mind you, because I wasn’t going to be the kid who couldn’t read!) I got it. I excelled. Silently, in my corner.
I was a really good kid, and an even better student. But I liked to let myself fade into the background. I won awards, got good grades, and sometimes was made an example of, which I hated, because it usually required being singled out or called to the front of the class. In later years, I let my grades, and potential, suffer in order to avoid to these situations. And had many a teacher let me know that I wasn’t fooling them…
I played sports, I had lots of friends, but adapted to most situations in my own way in order to feel comfortable. As I grew older, childhood shyness evolved into adolescent self-esteem issues and social anxiety.
Today’s society has girls and women thinking there’s a mold. A mold in which every woman must fit. Supermodels, actresses, athletes…long, flowing hair, sun kissed skin, lanky arms, a flat stomach, and a gap between their thighs. Not to mention, not a trace of cellulite! So realistic.
My middle school years were spent reading Seventeen magazine until the pages were torn, wishing I’d be one of the lucky girls in their annual modeling contest, but I never entered, thinking I wasn’t good enough. I’m still obsessed with fashion and models, but the expectations make me sick.
I wasn’t necessarily a “bullied” child, but I’ve always been sarcastic and had a sense of humor, which made people think they could say things to me and that I would just laugh them off, which I did. But calling a 13 year old girl with thick eyebrows, “caveman Katie lady,” as a joke, wasn’t really that funny, even as much as I laughed it off, then and now. Or being called, “fatty flatty,” because I wasn’t stick thin and didn’t have big boobs. And that’s not to say I didn’t participate in things like this. I’ve always had a somewhat smart ass mouth and had no problem throwing insults back at them, most of the time. But you start to learn, especially in adolescence, that looking a certain way gets you noticed, positively or negatively.
Don’t get me wrong, I had a fantastic childhood, and loved school. I just did so with a heavy burden of social anxiety. Mix that in with living in a small town full of cliques and small-town politics, and you get a cake that’s fallen in the middle and falls apart when you frost it. Don’t mind my cake references, it’s the pregnancy hormones talking.
I always looked at the “popular” girls, who were the same in kindergarten as they were in high school, as the pretty ones. The ones who had it all. And I’ve never thought I was ugly, just never pretty enough, never skinny enough. Always trying to hide parts of my body I didn’t like. Like these stocky legs that still make it damn near impossible to find tall boots that fit! And that feeling, when you’re in a bathing suit on a beach somewhere, that EVERY set of eyes within a 20 mile radius is fixated on your thighs, making comparisons to the crater structure of the moon.
I loved high school. I had so much fun. And had so many good friends. Even dabbled in the pageant circuit. But you couldn’t pay me any amount of money to go back. To be thrown into a shark tank with an oozing wound and no oxygen tank.
The boys never noticed me, and I did have long-term boyfriends, mind you. You know, that one you thought the universe created specifically for you and nothing would ever tear you apart?! Yeah, that one. Who left you for other girls, about 4-5 times. But I’m talking boys. The Jake Ryan’s who don’t even know you exist. I didn’t have the body 15 year old boys dream about, but thought I was supposed to. I wasn’t wearing bare midriff shirts, like some of the other girls, and I certainly wasn’t doing things I wasn’t supposed to in the back seats of cars. So there I was, mostly known as a shy kid. Which takes me back to 7th grade, when I was home schooled because of a stint with bullying and being threatened any time I left my house. I disappeared off the grid, and came back in 8th grade, wearing…GASP…makeup! And when I say makeup, it was mascara and lip gloss. And one of those boys made fun of me for “wearing too much makeup.” I didn’t wear makeup again for probably 3 years.
I gained confidence in high school, and any situation that allowed me to be funny and showcase humor and sarcasm was where I thrived. I was the school mascot and cheerleader with my best friend my senior year of high school, and I loved it! I was eventually friends with some of those boys because I could joke around and be a “guys” girl, but I was never that big school crush material. I was never homecoming queen, I wasn’t on the prom court, and I didn’t win my senior year beauty pageant, I didn’t even place. And I thought those were the types of things that defined those people, not their talents, personality or morals. When looking back now, who give a rat’s ass if you were homecoming queen?! It’s not getting you a job or any acclaim later in life. It’s just that in high school, those are the things that define you. And I think it’s really sad.
Side note: why are teenage girls so dramatic and certifiably insane?!
|Michigan’s recent attempt to be Seattle has created this lovely, brown lake in our backyard.|
I carried these confidence traits into my adulthood, and still carry them today. I went to college, for an art degree, which was a shock to myself. I always loved art, and actually, I’m quite good at it. But never pursued it in school because those select few art students were put above everyone else and I wasn’t about to sell myself out for a high school art class. Or be made an example of, same old story. But now I’m an adult, working in an art career. A starving artist, if you will. But the road to adulthood is never easy, and I’ve had my trials. Including excessive weight gain that caused road maps of stretch marks, anxiety and depression that caused me to become a hermit and hurt people around me, loss of friends, betrayal, weight loss (hooray!), finding myself again (hooray!), ditching people who made me feel inferior (hooray!), and learning to love me. The inside me. Who still thinks she’s not good enough, pretty enough or skinny enough. I’ve been trying to lose 50 lbs for about 10 years now. And I’m not pretty enough, or skinny enough for some people or society, and I’m (slowly) learning to accept that, and learning that I am all of these things to the people who love me. People who think otherwise, don’t matter. I’ll never win the Seventeen modeling contest because A) it no longer exists, B) I’m too old, and C) My 5′ 6.5″ was never quite tall enough! Boooo!
// I’m overweight // I’ve always struggled with weight, and likely will always struggle with weight // my thighs are big, so I never wear shorts // I’m working on Kardashian status with these hips // at 30 I feel like my boobs are already sagging // I dye my hair because I have too many gray hairs to pull out these days (why do they grow RIGHT in my part?!) // the stretch marks are still there, obviously // My eyebrows are still thick, but much more tame // I have hair that grows in awkward places and will someday invest in laser hair removal…of the whole body…except head and brows // I don’t own expensive clothes, I shop the clearance racks and goodwill // my butt is deflating like a sad balloon // my skin is pale // my toenails aren’t painted and it’s almost sandal season // I love taco bell burritos // I have freckles everywhere // I hate being in a room full of people because I feel like they’re all staring at my flaws // I still hate being called to the front of the room, unless, of course, I’ve been drinking and there’s a dance floor calling my name // my hair isn’t straight enough // my hair isn’t curly enough // my hair isn’t blonde (tried that a few times, disaster) // I don’t read enough // I’m obsessed with Kate Middleton // I like to ramble // run-on sentences are my thing // I suck at being anything like a “housewife” (laundry? it can wait, in that huge pile…over there) // I wear glasses, but sometimes I don’t because sometimes they bug me so I walk around squinting // wrinkles are starting to pop up // I wear “spanx” under dresses to conceal some bumps // my favorite pair of boots has a crack in the heel, but I still wear them, because I love them // I wear winged eyeliner every day, and every day one side looks different than the other // my face is crooked, thanks to my misaligned jaw // my adult teeth STILL need braces // I use the ‘f’ word way too much, but it just fits perfectly into so many sentences // I’m a cynic by nature, but love a romantic story with a happy ending // I have a broken family, but I’m learning that’s pretty common // I play too much Candy Crush and Jurassic Park on my phone // I still love Britney // I’m in debt and I’m sometimes late on bills //I text more than I call // some days, I don’t get out of my pj’s at all, or even shower…
I am all of these “flaws” and “quirks”, But what I also am is smart, funny, witty, artistic, giving, a perfectionist, a sister, an aunt, a friend, a lover, a daughter, and most importantly, me. All of this ‘stuff,’ good and bad, make me who I am.
Take all that positive nonsense I was just talking about, and throw it out the window. Because while pregnancy is amazing and a HUGE blessing, it’s also a time where you take any confidence that existed about your appearance, and throw it out the window. Because a doctor is going to tell you that your BMI is too high and you’re only supposed to gain 15-20 lbs, and you have to face the fact that you MUST gain weight, you’ll likely get MORE stretch marks, your lady parts will tear, your boobs will grow, then deflate…on and on and on…then you’ll have stupid people and websites talking about “pregnancy glow” and other nonsense like shiny hair and beautiful nails and you’ll see stars wearing designer maternity duds from fancy boutiques and you’re standing in the Motherhood outlet like, “ummmm…$50 for fat pants?! Hell no!”
So I’m learning, again, to try and love my new body. And I’m feeling more confident these days about my newly acquired gut, which was always there, just smaller, and without purpose, except for mimicking the appearance of muffins. And I’m feeling more proud to be a woman, and pretty awesome knowing my body can build a human. Even though, for approximately 16 weeks, you felt like absolute death and the frumpiest person on the planet. I’m not rich, and though I love things like Hatch Collection, I’m not going to be wearing any of it. Because I live in a place called reality, maybe you’ve heard of it? And now my challenge is dressing this already not-so-perfect body with the addition of a growing midsection…on a budget. So I’m getting creative. I’ve bought a few maternity items, and my mom has bought me a ton! But I’m looking for creative ways to showcase this baby with non-maternity items and fun finds from Goodwill! So, in an attempt to be some sort of cheapskate fashion blogger, here’s my first go. Being in front of a camera is so difficult for me. I despise pictures of myself. Just ask James, who, after every weekly picture attempt has to hear about my ugly hair, and that dreadful smile and oh-my-god-I-look-so-tired…but I’m giving up on being THAT girl. I am who I am, I can take a million pictures of myself from the neck up, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m a curvy girl. Own it!
So then the universe decided to give me a daughter. The one I’ve always wanted. And my heart is already breaking knowing that at some point, somewhere, someone will make her feel like she’s not beautiful, even though to me, she’s the most beautiful thing on this planet. So I’m trying to be a better me, so I can teach her that you can grow up to be whatever you want and be good at it. All while still being her goofy, sarcastic, smart ass mama who loves her daddy more than life and knows he thinks she’s beautiful, even with the goofy faces, because it’s who she is. And that’s what matters.
I’ve already made progress…these pictures pissed me off because my collar was messed up due to my necklace being too heavy, but I’m owning it! I noticed it in-camera and said, “ef it! It is what it is!” and it’s not real life if everything is perfect.