The title of this post was a homework question to ponder for an accreditation I am completing. I didn’t like who I was 20, 30 or even 10 years ago but I like who I am becoming. I am becoming authentic – becoming who I am supposed to be. I feel as though I was living my life based on expectations placed on me – whether that be mine, my family, friends’ or society’s. I am unlearning years of conditioned thoughts, actions and behaviours. It took years to learn and will also take years to unlearn and I am glad to be on that journey.
I have been on a self-discovery/ learning journey now for about 6 years. Learning about yourself is often an uncomfortable one, accepting things about yourself that you may not like. It is also about looking at what you can change and how you can go about it. It’s not an easy journey and one that I still stumble on but one that I am committed for the whole journey. There are thoughts, actions and behaviours due to unconscious or sub-conscious thoughts/ behaviours that I am still addressing. Sometimes they will pop up at times least expected. Like my one with body image, familiar with most people – females in particular.
When I was younger, I was unhealthy for a long time – physically and mentally. As a result, I was quite thin. People used to say to me “You’re so lucky to be skinny” but I didn’t see that comment as a compliment. I would exercise to try and put on weight, muscle and to look healthy but I remained “skinny”. I was in a toxic environment and this resulted in not being in a good space physically and mentally. I became anaemic, my acne flared and I was making unhealthy food choices – I wasn’t eating or sleeping well for many years. When I was able to remove myself from the situation, I was able to sleep and eat properly. I gained weight, looked healthier and felt better about myself.
However, when I bumped into people who hadn’t seen me since I was “skinny”, the comments I would receive were “Oh, you’ve put on weight” and “Be careful you don’t get too fat”. So, even though I was finally healthy, people didn’t seem to observe this and chose to comment about me getting ‘fat’. I was in my early twenties so image was one of those things that was kind of important (not something I’m proud of but it was reality). I would respond to those people with “Yes, but I’m healthy now”, but I still had a small part of me thinking I was ‘fat’. I try to avoid using those labels especially now that I have a daughter who could be influenced by how I perceive myself. I prefer to say that our bodies should be healthy – regardless of weight, size or shape. By choosing not to use those labels, I am unlearning years of conditioning and still progressing. I have a long way to go but slowly making progress – and progress, no matter how small is still progress. Something that I feel society has yet to tackle successfully eg Media, advertising, films, etc. There has been some progress but there is much more to room to move.
Which is why my comment to a couple of my friends one night bothers me so much, even to this day although it happened a few weeks ago. I caught up with friends I hadn’t seen for a while and we started discussing tattoos. One of my friends, whom I call my ‘tattoo buddy’ as she has accompanied me previously, has a design that she drew and had finally decided where she wanted it to be placed. I love her design and also the location she has decided. I have also been contemplating where I’d like mine and mentioned a spot I was considering. That spot is on my side torso, my friend said with encouragement “Yes, that’s where you should put it!” To which my response was (to my horror) “It just means I can’t get fat”.
The thing with words is once you have said them, you can’t take them back. I can’t take back my words and I have been ruminating over them since. I realise my comment was a reflection of how I felt about my body, not anyone else’s. I tend not to notice people’s weight/ size unless it is pointed out but I’m quick to criticise myself. Something I am slowly changing… becoming. I’m not perfect, nor will I ever be but I can be better. Even when I facilitate learning, I say “Practice makes permanent” – not perfect. I feel that nothing is perfect. I can practice the change in my thoughts, actions and behaviour to become permanent.
I caught up with my youngest sister recently and we spoke about this question amongst other things. She is also on a self-discovery/ learning journey so our discussion revolved around a few things related to this. My sister spoke about what she wanted in her life right now was different to what/ where some of her friends were at the moment. I said that it was okay for her to be different and she agreed. I also mentioned what her friends want or are doing in their lives at the moment may not be what they want but may be because it is expected of them. We spoke about how sometimes the years of conditioning also takes a long time to unlearn.
How sometimes we may say/ do things sub consciously or unconsciously based on what friends/ family/ society has projected on us rather than what we really want and that we need to become more aware/ conscious to prevent doing that. Especially if it is not congruent with who we are. She mentioned how it is with me being the eldest and her being the youngest (there are 14.5 years between us), how responsibility is always expected of me and sometimes thrust upon me even when I may not want it. I agreed, and mentioned with her being the youngest, that there were also certain expectations that were projected upon her. We both laughed and said we are ‘flipping the bird’ to expectations! We accept who we are and who we are becoming, faults and all – it’s quite liberating!
So, who are you becoming? How can you ensure you like who you are becoming? What are some things you could start or continue to do, to become who you ARE?
I aim to enable myself and others to Laugh.Love.Live. Thank you for allowing me to share and process my thoughts through this blog. I feel I process things better when I construct my thoughts into writing. Thank you for sharing back with me via your blogs, likes and comments – it is very much appreciated, provoking thought and insight! The definition of authentic is below – I hope to realise point 1, but not so much point 2! Peace and blessings!
- of undisputed origin and not a copy; genuine.“the letter is now accepted as an authentic document”
synonyms: genuine, original, real, actual, pukka, bona fide, true, veritable; Moresterling;attested, undisputed, rightful, legitimate, lawful, legal, valid;echt;informalthe real McCoy, the genuine article, the real thing, your actual, kosher, honest-to-goodness;informaldinkum;raresimon-pure“the first authentic Rubens in the museum’s collection”
antonyms: fake, spurious
- made or done in the traditional or original way, or in a way that faithfully resembles an original.“the restaurant serves authentic Italian meals”
- based on facts; accurate or reliable.“an authentic depiction of the situation”
synonyms: reliable, dependable, trustworthy, authoritative, honest, faithful; Moreaccurate, exact, factual, true, truthful, veracious, true to life;informalstraight from the horse’s mouth;rareveridical“an authentic depiction of the situation”
antonyms: unreliable, inaccurate
- (in existentialist philosophy) relating to or denoting an emotionally appropriate, significant, purposive, and responsible mode of human life.
- Music(of a church mode) containing notes between the final (the principal note) and the note an octave higher.