The summer of 2018 is one I hate looking back on. I didn't feel like myself at all. I was comparing myself to every other person in sight. I was so mad about how gross I felt in my bikini at the beach that it ruined my vacations. I refused to take pictures and refused to look at the ones other people took of me. And I was too upset to feel like doing anything about it.
And looking back, nothing about me was that bad. I just wasn't happy. And stress and anxiety did a number on my mental and physical health.
So this summer, I made a promise to myself to be happy. Whatever it took. And on my own so I would know how not to rely on other people for my happiness. Just me alone with my thoughts in my mostly empty apartment while everyone was off doing their own things for the summer. It was the perfect opportunity because I wouldn't have anyone to compare myself to or anyone to doubt me.
Being alone didn't have to mean I would be lonely. It was an opportunity for me to be nicer to myself and figure out how to love who I am when no one else is around to influence my perception. I couldn't just accept and move on from the things I didn't want to deal with anymore. I had to stop taking my body, my emotions, and any problems I had with myself for what they were.
I wanted to love every bit of who I am, I wanted to own it, and I wanted to have confidence in it. It's what I deserved, and I knew it was the only way I could ever move forward and be happy.
And the way it happened is something I'm so proud of myself for. I didn't starve myself or force myself to physically do more than I could handle. I had done those things before, and it was out of anger. That was me doing what I thought others wanted me to do.
I did do things like practice mindful eating and I went to the gym. I took advantage of what summer has to offer, like fresh fruits and vegetables from my dad's garden. I drank lots of water and took a break from only hydrating with iced coffee. But I also fed my body things it craved like chocolate and pasta just because that felt like a good thing to do. And I beat the summer heat with a milkshake sometimes. With no guilt. I started forgiving myself for wanting a break or being lazy.
I chased after inspiration and watched movies and read books that offered me new perspectives on life. I learned new things, meditated, and I finally got the haircut everyone else said I shouldn't get. I went shopping and got things without looking at what size it was and bought things just because they fit and made me feel good. Even if they would draw attention to my hips or my legs or my face or whatever else I didn't like about myself that day.
I even accomplished some of the things I was always really against doing. Like sitting by the pool and sunbathing in a bikini. Even when it was crowded and everyone would see. And it was the same bikini from last year. I wasn't any smaller, just way more confident. I started relaxing with baths. I used to shower in the dark sometimes so I wouldn't see myself. Now I don't have to. I even switched out all the bubbles for lavender oil and filled the room up with candles.
It feels so amazing to not only accept my body for all it is but to feel comfortable and my most relaxed.
I haven't weighed myself in over a year, I don't pay attention to how thick my thighs are, and I don't think about how my hips will be affected by what I have for breakfast. I shifted my focus to how I deserved to be treated, I paid more attention to how I act around people, I reminded people I loved them when they were on my mind so that positive energy would reflect back on me.
In two months, I learned so much about myself. I love the body that has been nothing but good to me my whole life. And there are still moments when I struggle. Sometimes I have to take breaks from social media so I don't get caught up in how everyone else lives their lives. Comparing myself to other people has rarely ever left me feeling better, but making comparisons to previous versions of myself shows growth and that feels amazing.
Loving my body isn't something that happened overnight and keeping my confidence up is going to be a neverending process throughout my life, but this summer was a great start to something wonderful.