Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Smile. You are beautiful...

Do we get confidence, or are we already confident?  This was my fortune from the Mandarin yesterday.  It made me think because if someone were to ask me about my confidence right now, I'd have to say that I am not very confident in my own body.  Confidence means different things though.  I have never been confident in my looks.  I've spent the majority of my life morbidly obese. I  have however, been confident in my job and the knowledge that I have gained through years of experience working with the hard to serve population that I do.  

Back to self confidence though.  I am only now starting to switch the way I think of myself.  It's a slow process, moving away from "fat mode".  When I walk into a room, or onto the subway, or out in public and get looked at or smiled at by someone, I automatically think they are laughing at me. Judging me.  I think that they know my secret and can tell that I'm a fraud.  A morbidly obese person living in a smaller body.  Lynda from Living the Life left a comment on my last post (And thanks to all who left such complimentary comments regarding my outfit.  Way to boost a girl's self-esteem!) that also got me thinking...

The dinner looked great and you looked amazing!! Wear that makeup more often - after all the hard work you've put in you deserve to look that beautiful. I was thinking that people (read: overweight people) will see you out looking like that and think "oh that woman has no idea what it's like to have to diet". You will be seen now as a confident, slim woman who has never had a weight problem in her life.

I always assume that everyone I come into contact with knows about my unhealthy past.  I assume they can guess by seeing my flaws.  And trust me, I have tons of them.  But they are only blatantly obvious to me.  A few things happened on Monday that made me realize that no one that I just met would know anything about how I used to look unless I told them.  I work with disadvantaged youth.  On Monday I was in the reception area of my building with a current client that I met maybe three months ago.  While I'm saying goodbye to that youth, I notice a young person I previously worked with, but haven't seen in over a year.  So about 70 pounds ago.  I approach that youth to say hello and he just gives me a questioning look.  Then he freaks out and says, "OMG!  I barely recognize you".  My current client looks back and has a confused look on her face.  She didn't say anything, and walked off, but looked back as he loudly talked about how I look completely different.  I know she's going to have a lot of questions for me the next time I see her.  She's never known me obese.

I was at a committee meeting on the same day and a co-worker who recently got back from maternity leave asked me how much weight I lost.  I told her 125 pounds and the two newest members of the committee looked completely shocked.  They have also never known me as an obese person.  I showed my "Indian Status" card at Walmart last night while I was grocery shopping.  Showing it means I get some of the tax taken off. The checkout girl looked at the card, looked at me and said, "Kudos to you!  You look great!"  I usually get questioned as to whether or not the photo is really me, and mentioned that to her, but she said, "I can tell it's you.  You were pretty in the picture, you're beautiful now."  That was one of the nicest compliments ever! Especially since I was wearing yoga pants and no make-up!

I guess, for me, confidence is something that I'm gaining in time.  I have confidence in other areas of my life.  I'm confident as a mother, as a friend, as a daughter, as a wife, as a youth worker.  I'm not confident as a runner.  That will develop in time.  And my looks and body?  A work in progress for sure.  So back to Lynda's comment.  Although others may see me as confident and slim because they don't know my past, I am far from feeling that way myself.  When I see myself in a reflection, I still do a double take because I see a stranger looking back at me.  I know the person I see looks good, but I still struggle seeing myself the way others see me.  I'm expecting to wake up one day from this wonderful dream and return to my former life of hypertension and obesity. Unless I'm looking in a mirror, I still see myself the way I look in my mind.  And in my mind, I still weigh 290 pounds.

Wouldn’t it be powerful if you fell in love with yourself so deeply that you would do just about anything if you knew it would make you happy? This is precisely how much life loves you and wants you to nurture yourself. The deeper you love yourself, the more the universe will affirm your worth. Then you can enjoy a lifelong love affair that brings you the richest fulfillment from inside out. - Alan Cohen