I’ve been thinking about how lucky I am to have learned what I have so far in life and to have such great friends. I feel very supported.
I saw an interview in which they were discussing finding joy in marrying the ideas of, 1) who you are, with 2) who you present to the world. I had a flashback to a course I took when I was 19. There I’d seen a Venn diagram on the wall with these concepts in either circle. It was a powerful visual as those two circles rarely intersected in the life I was leading at the time. When I designed my tattoo shortly afterwards, I made a thick ring in the middle as a representation of me being my most authentic self. Who I am is who I present to the world. I chose its location, on my forearm, so I’d see it regularly to keep myself in check, not slipping into old habits of putting on a front.
I learned that lesson so young. I feel really grateful for that. When I say something now, I mean it. I don’t do things that I don’t want to do. I don’t hope that people will like me anymore. That’s all I ever wanted when I was young. I used to joke (but not really joke) that the Oscar Meyer Weiner song was my song… so everyone would be in love with me. *groan* Now I show up as myself and I seem to positively attract most. And there’s some that I don’t. And that’s ok, I can’t be everyone’s cup of tea. I don’t feel drawn to everyone either, that’s how it goes.
Another huge learning that goes well with the first is much thanks to my dear friend and owner of Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park, Stephane Deschenes. I can largely credit naturism as well. He’s been my guide to self-love and appreciation and naturism has been our classroom. Anyone can partake in naturism and enjoy the healing effect, but I found it handy to have a friend by my side, constantly challenging thoughts and beliefs as I undo the learning from society.
I realized just how much has shifted in me when I had a friend over for a swim. Sadly, swimsuits are required in our condo’s pool, and she explained to me why she wears shorts versus panty style bottoms. “I hate my legs, I know I shouldn’t say that to a person who’s always on about body positivity, but there I said it.” I drank in what she said, and it was conflictingly funny. I hadn’t asked why she was wearing shorts, she offered it up. And I thought that it was amusing that she wanted to share about it, but simultaneously felt I was the wrong person to tell since I’m “always on about body positivity”. I just said, “I think that we all have parts of our body that we wish were different. I just don’t dwell on it.” This is a huge shift!
I remember being 14 and watching my thighs jiggling as I sat in the car, just loathing myself. It didn’t help that I was sitting next to my Dad who was actively part of the dating scene and liberally shared the measurements of his prospects. Sneering at someone’s weight, clearly out of the running, obviously of no interest. How could anyone ever love a girl with huge jiggly thighs like mine? Someone who let herself have thighs like that? I thought they were all flaws, every way that my body differed from those of celebrities. Flaws that I was sure everyone could see like a huge pimple in the middle of my face. It was a relief to hear as a teen that no one is really looking at anyone else that closely because everyone’s so focused on themselves, with their own insecurities.
These days I still think, usually daily for a moment or two, that I’d like my stomach area to be smaller. Then I think, well it is what it is, no sense in having a sad day about it. My body still does all the brilliant things that it does, and I am well-loved despite the casing I come in. Despite the casing? That’s not quite right either, but I can’t think of another way to frame it. That beautiful confidence is much thanks to naturism and my unrelenting guide.
I am a lucky woman to have this understanding at the age of 37. Just imagine how wise I’ll be by 50!