What is it about showers? Or driving? For some reason, these are the two activities that generate the most Ah-haa moments for me. And to be frank – it rather sucks! Cos how the hell am I meant to jot down said Ah-haa moments mid-shampoo or while flipping off the notorious Cape Town drivers? Seriously, these Ah-haa moments can be so inconsiderate sometimes.
So invariably as soon as the Ah-haa has struck, the big battle of trying to retain the idea with all associated enthusiasm begins. Repeat it over and over in my head so I don’t forget it. Laser-focus concentration. What did I need to pick up at the shop? Nope! Back to the Ah-haa – FOCUS!! If I’m successful in my jedi mind tricks then at my earliest convenience, I’ll scurry around for a pen so that I can release my brain spasm. There! I’m free! The idea has been written down before me and I can once again breathe normally.
So, ya, that’s how my day started today.
So What Was My Ah-Haa Moment?
To be honest, you’ll probably be disappointed. It’s not exactly ground breaking on a global scale. But for me it signifies clarity. Clarity of purpose. Clarity of cause. Clarity of a path before me.
I realised that my purpose is to make women feel better about themselves.
As a woman with all the same insecurities about physical appearance, life choices & imposed external expectations, I realised that the work I do, both professionally and personally all comes down to self-acceptance.
To Fit In or To Stand Out
My earliest memory of not fitting in, or rather, standing out, was in high school. And by standing out, I became a target. A target of meanness, bitchy-ness and made to feel that the only option was to fit in. Now don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t bullied, or physically hurt in anyway. It was more an internal process that happened as a result of a series of events which ultimately lead me to become a people-pleaser. Straying away from my true self to a version that I thought would be more acceptable to others.
I was a bit of a nerd at school. Difficult to believe I know, ‘cos I’m so suave and cool now! Pffft!
But I did well academically, bobbing around in the top-ten academics line-up. I had acne and I was a bit funny looking. When I became a prefect, I lost a couple of friends who hadn’t made the cut. And then in the final year when I became Deputy-Head Girl, all hell broke loose (in my head anyway). You know the movie ‘Mean Girls’? Well those chicks were in my school, and they did not like me. I don’t know what their reason was for not liking me, but in my head, it was because I didn’t conform.
Girls that I used to be fairly friendly with started distancing themselves from me, and I remember thinking to myself one day – “I’m never going to give people a reason to dislike me!” That’s when the people-pleaser in me was born and she’s done everything in her power, sometimes even self-destructive things, to ensure that she’ll always be accepted by others and ‘fit in’ to the crowd.
The Small Things Can Hurt Like Hell
It turns my stomach to think how such silly events can have such a profound effect for so long.
But I suppose that’s what happens. And I’m grateful that the extent of my ‘childhood trauma’ is limited to a silly popularity issue, as opposed to anything more sinister and painful.
And while I don’t profess to have any qualifications in physchology, all I know is how these events made me feel. Even after all these years as I approach middle-age-dom. Even the smallest and most insignificant events can stick, and they’re painful! Like splinters – they’re small, almost imperceptable, but they hurt like hell!
She Doesn’t Exist in Photos
I was photographing a woman a couple of weeks ago. She was an extreme perfectionist and painfully self-conscious of standing for a photo. She has two grown up children and when we got chatting during the shoot, she told me that she has only one photo of herself in their house. She’s that self-conscious that she can’t bear having photos of herself. My heart sank as I thought of her children, who may one day wish they had more photos to remember her by. As it stands, this woman doesn’t exist in the story of their lives as told by the family photo trail. I felt so sad for her. As difficult a shoot as it was, I vowed to myself that I would create images of her that she’s going to love. So she can see for herself how amazing she is, and hopefully accept herself as that.
Giving a Shit What Others Think
That’s the point right there – Accept yourself as you are. I’ve heard that the older you get, the less you care what other people think. But why do we have to wait until we’re old to adopt that mindset? Why can’t we do it at any age? Why is it so easy to buy into the ‘you’re not good enough’ mindset?
So this morning’s Ah-haa moment is as much for making other women feel better about themselves as it is for me. To accept our differences – hell, let’s celebrate our differences! Surely, that’s the point of these short lives we lead. Yes, there will always be someone younger, smarter, more beautiful, but they’ll never be a more perfect you, than you!
So this is me, accepting me as I am. Take it or leave it! F*ck what anyone else thinks, I’m not going to apologise for who I am (And yes, I do swear quite a bit in real life) – I’m a cookie addict who manages somehow to stay slim. I’m a vegetarian who still loves the smell of bacon and boerewors. I have CHOSEN not to have children, because I don’t want the responsibility. I’m conscious of getting old, but I’m loving that I get the chance to.
I’m a people-pleaser – but this time, I’m going to do it so that others can like themselves, not so they can like me. There’s a big difference.
What the World Needs
Afterall, don’t you think the world needs fewer people making others feel shitty and more people making others feel better about themselves?
This, it seems, has been a little Thursday therapy session, and I’m feeling so much better for getting that off my chest. Now it’s your turn – What are the things about yourself that make you stand out, and that you’re learning to embrace?